DayBreaks for 12/30/16 – Sightless Eyes

DayBreaks for 12/30/16: Sightless Eyes

From the DayBreaks archive, 1999:

A while back, I received a call from the county sheriff’s office asking if I was available to go with one of their deputies to notify a woman that her husband of many years had died. I went down to the emergency room at the local hospital to meet the officer before going to the home and he took me into the room where the man’s body was. The man had died only minutes earlier, apparently of a heart attack while driving. He was alone in the quiet room, surrounded by medical equipment and signs of the lost battle that had been waged to keep him alive. His eyes, sightless, were open – staring at the ceiling.

I was reminded of the words of God through Jeremiah the prophet in Jer. 5:21-22: “Hear this, you foolish and senseless people, who have eyes but do not see, who have ears but do not hear: Should you not fear me?” declares the LORD. “Should you not tremble in my presence?” As I stood gazing at the body of this man, I couldn’t help but wonder what his “eyes” were seeing at that instant. Was he beholding the face of the Redeemer or was he seeing the reality of a horrifying destiny for eternity? It added a sense of urgency to tell others about Christ.

In Matthew 13:13-15, Jesus spoke about sightless eyes and as usual, got to the heart of the problem. The people couldn’t see for the simple reason that they had closed their eyes. They didn’t WANT to see. What they saw (Jesus!) made them uncomfortable because he revealed what man was meant to be and what God demanded – holiness! And the sad part of it is that if we walk in rebellion long enough, we do become blind (Romans 1).

Think about it: what happens to you if you close your eyes? It isn’t long before you start getting hurt. There was a group of Pharisees who were referred to as the “blind and bleeding Pharisees” because when they were walking on a public street and a woman came along, they would close their eyes so they wouldn’t lust – with the inevitable result that they got bloody when they began bumping into buildings and other things in the street! That wasn’t what Jesus meant, but it illustrates the dangers of closing our eyes.

We have a choice. We can close our eyes if we want to – and when we do we run the risk of being hurt – not to mention we can’t see our brother or neighbor in need (remember the Good Samaritan and those who passed by the injured traveler?). But the worst thing we can do is close our eyes when we look into the mirror of the Word of God (James 1:23-25) and refuse to see the truth about ourselves, what we are and what we do, and what we can become through Jesus.

How is your vision? Is it clear and sharp? Are you closing your eyes in rebellion? By closing our eyes to failures and imperfections, we are only blinding ourselves – not God.

PRAYER: Keep us from willful blindness, Lord. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2016 by Galen Dalrymple.

DayBreaks for 11/23/16 – The Necessary Arrangements

DayBreaks for 11/23/16: The Necessary Arrangements

There is an Italian legend about a master and servant.

It seems the servant was not very smart and the master used to get very exasperated with him. Finally, one day, in a fit of temper, the master said: “You really are the stupidest man I know. Here, I want you to carry this staff wherever you go. And if you ever meet a person stupider than yourself, give them this staff.”

So time went by, and often in the marketplace the servant would encounter some pretty stupid people, but he never found someone appropriate for the staff. Years later, he returned to his master’s home. He was shown into his master’s bedroom, for the man was quite sick and in bed. In the course of their conversation the master said: “I’m going on a journey soon.”

“When will you return?”, asked the servant.

“This is a journey from which I will not return.” the master replied.

The servant asked: “Have you made all the necessary arrangements?”

“No, I guess I have not.”

“Well, could you have made all the arrangements?”

“Oh yes, I guess I’ve had time. I’ve had all my life. But I’ve been busy with other things…”

With that, the servant took the staff the master had given him years earlier and placed it beside the bed of the master. “Sir, he said, I have finally found someone more deserving of this staff than I.”

The moral of the story is quite obvious, isn’t it? But what isn’t so obvious to us is the extent to which we are like the master in this story. Perhaps for years you have made fun of those who clung to faith, thinking that they were stupid, foolish, superstitious and ignorant. The other thing which isn’t so obvious to us is how entrapped we have become in the pursuit of other things, those things which kept our hearts and minds from the ultimate question that we will face on our death bed. How tragic it would be to find ourselves in that position and not have made “the arrangements” necessary for the trip into eternity.

How are your preparations coming?

PRAYER: Lord, our enemy tries to keep us blinded and oblivious to the ultimate realities in life. He tries to keep us too busy to think about such things. Wake us up, Jesus, so that we and our loved ones can make the necessary arrangements so that when we are on our deathbed, we will have the confidence that comes from a relationship with You! In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2016, Galen C. Dalrymple.  All rights reserved.

DayBreaks for 11/01/16 – When He Comes Again

DayBreaks for 11/01/16 – When He Comes Again

From the DayBreaks archive, October 2006:

NOTE: Galen is taking a short vacation.

Where will you be?  What will you be doing?  Have you ever wondered what you’ll see and hear and how you’ll feel when the LORD comes to receive His own?  I have.  I’ve thought about it many times – even worried about it when I was young.  I was afraid he’d come at some time when I’d be away from my mom and dad and sister, and I’d be on my own – lost in the vast horde of humanity that will rise when summoned to the great judgment throne of God.  I look back at those fears now and know that they were childish and silly.  But the coming of Christ will be neither childish nor silly.  It will be spectacular.  It will be indescribable.  It will be, quite honestly, the culminating moment of all history.  I like, however, the way Max Lucado tried to make it real for us.  It stirred my heart, and I hope it stirs yours:


“You are in your car driving home. Thoughts wander to
the game you want to see or meal you want to eat, when suddenly a sound unlike any you’ve ever heard fills the air.  The sound is high above you.  A trumpet?  A choir?  A choir of trumpets?  You don’t know, but you want to know.

“So you pull over, get out of your car, and look up.  As you do, you see you aren’t the only curious one. The roadside has become a parking lot.  Car doors are open, and people are staring at the sky.  Shoppers are racing out of the grocery store.  The Little League baseball game across the street has come to a halt.  Players and parents are searching the clouds. And what they see, and what you see, has never before been seen.

“As if the sky were a curtain, the drapes of the atmosphere part. A brilliant light spills onto the earth. There are no shadows. None.  From whence came the light begins to tumble a river of color spiking crystals of every hue ever seen and a million more never seen. Riding on the flow is an endless fleet of angels. They pass through the curtains one myriad at a time, until they occupy every square inch of the sky.

“North.
South.
East.
West.

“Thousands of silvery wings rise and fall in unison, and over the sound of the trumpets, you can hear the cherubim and seraphim chanting, Holy, Holy, Holy.  The final flank of angels is followed by twenty-four silver-bearded elders and a multitude of souls who join the angels in worship.

“Presently the movement stops and the trumpets are silent, leaving only the triumphant triplet: Holy, Holy, Holy.  Between each word is a pause.  With each word, a profound reverence.  You hear your voice join in the chorus. You don’t know why you say the words, but you know you must.

“Suddenly, the heavens are quiet.  All is quiet.  The angels turn, you turn, the entire world turns and there He is. 

 “Jesus.

“Through waves of light you see the silhouetted figure of Christ the King.  He is atop a great stallion, and the stallion is atop a billowing cloud.  He opens his mouth, and you are surrounded by his declaration: “I am the Alpha and the Omega!” 


“The angels bow their heads.
“The elders remove their crowns.
“And before you is a Figure so consuming that you know, instantly you know:  Nothing else matters. 

“Forget stock markets and school reports.  Sales meetings and football games.  Nothing is newsworthy.  All that mattered, matters no more….for Christ has come.” – Max Lucado 

1 Thessalonians 4:16-18 (NIV) For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first.  After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever.  Therefore encourage each other with these words.

PRAYER:  Father, when we are prone to despair and be discouraged, help us to remember that the “day of the Lord” will, indeed, come, and that when it does, there will be nothing at all that matters except Jesus.  May we be eagerly ready!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2016 by Galen C. Dalrymple. All rights reserved.

DayBreaks for 10/14/16 – It’s All About Exile

DayBreaks for 10/14/16 – It’s All About Exile

From the DayBreaks archive, 2006:

1 Chronicles 29:15 – We are here for only a moment, visitors and strangers in the land as our ancestors were before us. Our days on earth are like a shadow, gone so soon without a trace.

1 Peter 2:11-12 (NIV) – Dear friends, I urge you, as aliens and strangers in the world, to abstain from sinful desires, which war against your soul.  Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us.

From Doug Dalrymple, in his blog:

“In the 2nd century Christian apologetic, the Letter to Diognetus, we read:

“For Christians cannot be distinguished from the rest of the human race by country or language or customs. They do not live in cities of their own; they do not use a peculiar form of speech…
Yet although they live in Greek and barbarian cities alike, as each man’s lot has been cast, and follow the customs of the country in clothing and food and other manners of daily living, at the same time they give proof of the remarkable and admittedly extraordinary constitution of their commonwealth. They live in their own countries, but only as aliens. They have a share in everything as citizens, and endure everything as foreigners. Every foreign land is their fatherland, and yet for them every fatherland is a foreign land.

“To amend Khomiakov, if I may: Do not harness your heart, then, to anything but the Cross of Christ.

“Or, as we read in Hebrews: ‘Here we have no lasting city, but we seek the city which is to come.’  – Exile, my friends. It’s all about exile.”

Galen’s Thoughts: We should never get too comfortable in this “home” (or even too alarmed about current events) because that’s exactly what this world is NOT: home.  Sure, we were born here, grew up here, and we will die here, but it is not home.  Not for the Christian.  It is nothing more, and nothing less, than enemy territory, a foreign land that we must traverse before we leave for Home.

Hebrews 11:8-10 (NIV) – By faith Abraham, when called to go to a place he would later receive as his inheritance, obeyed and went, even though he did not know where he was going.  By faith he made his home in the promised land like a stranger in a foreign country; he lived in tents, as did Isaac and Jacob, who were heirs with him of the same promise. For he was looking forward to the city with foundations, whose architect and builder is God.

We need to be focused and looking for that same city, living as responsible citizens in the here and now and helping others look for that City, too.

PRAYER: Lord Jesus, the allure of this world for us humans is overwhelming.  We must accept the unseen by faith, while here we can see, taste, touch, smell and hear the sounds of life, or what passes for life in our experience.  Help us to fix our eyes on our Father’s land.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2016 by Galen C. Dalrymple. All rights reserved.

 

 

DayBreaks for 10/04/16 – You Are Mere Men

DayBreaks for 10/04/16 – You Are Mere Men               

Galen is traveling this week…

From the DayBreaks archive, 2006:

Psalms 82:5-8 (NLT) – But these oppressors know nothing; they are so ignorant! And because they are in darkness, the whole world is shaken to the core.  I say, `You are gods and children of the Most High. But in death you are mere men. You will fall as any prince, for all must die.’  Rise up, O God, and judge the earth, for all the nations belong to you.

The first part of this Psalm talks a lot about the oppressors and powerful people in this world.  Truly, the world is full of powerful people.   Some are good, some are evil – most are the latter.  Maybe it’s just me in my advancing years, but it seems that the world grows more and more corrupt each day, and that those who are evil draw power to themselves like a magnet draws iron shavings.  Should we be surprised?  Shouldn’t we expect that the father of lies and evil would give power to those who demonstrate to him their willingness to serve him and use it to further his purposes? 

But that makes me ask: how much more is God willing to give His infinite power to those who serve Him?  Yet God does it not through political power or will, but through other means.  Were there been more powerful or influential people in the 20th century than Mother Theresa or Billy Graham?  You see, God’s power isn’t manifest in high office, but in high service. 

The Psalmist then reminds us that all are, at least by virtue of origin, children of the Most High, but in death they are nothing more than any other human – dead human flesh.  As Solomon encouraged us, it is good to remember our destiny – that we will all one day lie in death’s embrace.  The question of the hour is: will we rise from that death to take up a new residence in heaven or in hell?

I’ve seen so much sickness and disease lately, and I’m forced once again to examine my own mortality and that of others.  It needs to give me a greater sense of urgency for eternal souls than I currently have.  For a while after my bypass, I was keenly aware of my mortality.  But now that I’m nearly 15 years into my re-plumbed heart, I’ve lost some of the sense that I’m mortal.  Yet, as I see my breathing after walking up hill become more labored again, I’m reminded that I shall not pass this way again, and that I need to get it right the first time through.  God will judge the earth – and that includes you and me.

PRAYER:  Lord, awaken us to our greatest needs and help us to put trivial pursuits aside for that which will last forever.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2016 by Galen C. Dalrymple. All rights reserved.

DayBreaks for 9/22/16 – Only If We Despair

Image result for despair

DayBreaks for 9/22/16 – Only If We Despair      

From the DayBreaks archive, 9/19/2006:

Copyright © 2006 Christianity Today. September 2006, Vol. 50, No. 9, Page 118

“But it is important for Christians not to confuse the existence of bad news with our reaction to the bad news—and here it is useful to look at The Screwtape Letters.

“C. S. Lewis’s famous novel was conceived and written during World War II, when so much looked bad. One of the most striking moments in the story arrives when the inexperienced junior devil, Wormwood, chortles over the horrors of war. Screwtape sternly admonishes his nephew not “to forget the main point in your immediate enjoyment of human suffering.” In war, says the senior devil, people die. But hell gains nothing from mere human misery and death, he warns. It is the state in which people die that matters.

“Lewis is not suggesting that we celebrate our suffering or that we stand blind to the suffering of others. His point, rather, is that Christians should not mistakenly think that bad news here on earth means Satan is winning. Men have done terrible things to each other ever since Eden. The horrors of war—like the other pains and scars of life—pose a challenge to faith. Lewis suggests that what truly matters is how we meet that challenge: the battle, that is, in the spiritual realm.

“As the writer of Hebrews said to discouraged believers, “Let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the Cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart” (Heb. 12:1-3).

“Lewis’s vision of Satan is far more useful and scary than Hollywood’s. The film industry loves making movies about hell. In these high-budget visions of the underworld, demons usually emerge to do bad things to people, causing death and destruction here on earth. The hero either slays them or works some mystic incantation that sends them back, after which life on earth returns to what it was before. The demons are just like other Hollywood bad guys: terrorists, serial killers, the ruthless rich out to rule the world. In these visions, the bad thing about Satan is that he wants to do bad things to us here and now.

“C. S. Lewis’s marvelous imagination, by contrast, should remind us that this vision is dangerously wrong. The terrible tragedies that befall the world work to Satan’s benefit only if we despair. Suffering, as Screwtape reminds his nephew, often strengthens faith. Better to keep people alive, he says, long enough for faith to be worn away. The death of a believer is the last thing the Devil wants.”

Galen’s Thoughts: Sometimes I’m tempted to think that Satan loves misery and death.  I’m not sure that’s right.  After all, I rather doubt that Satan licks his chops when he contemplates his own fate in eternal hell.  So Lewis’ point is a good one: he only relishes death of humans when they die without Christ.  He’d much rather that we as believers stay alive long enough to give him more time to beat us up, to wear down our resolve and surrender to the suffering of this world, blaming it on God with the result being that we reject Him.  I don’t know about you, but I, for one, don’t want to give Satan that satisfaction.  How much better that we spend our time, not in thinking that the suffering is what matters, but that the souls of men and women are what truly is important.

PRAYER:  We are a depressed and discouraged society.  The enemy even attacks us from within the sheepfold, Lord!  But help us stay focused on the ultimate realities with which we are faced.  Help us to realize that our despair plays into Satan’s hands.  May we find comfort and assurance and sustenance beside You in green pastures beside the still waters.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

 

DayBreaks for 8/25/16 – Lazarus’ Unexpected Experience

DayBreaks for 8/25/16 – Lazarus’ Unexpected Experience

In spite of all the “near death experiences” and stories about what happens after you die, we really just don’t know. There are those who say that at least some of these experiences are real…and then there are those who say they are nothing more than the dying embers of the brain firing on whatever cylinders are left. As Christians, we believe in life after death. I know, I certainly do. But do I know precisely what happens when one dies? I’m not talking about the physical process of dying – I think I understand that fairly well. I’m referring to the question of will we be conscious or not?

There are clues scatted around the bible that might cause us to believe we’ll be conscious (like the story of Lazarus and the rich man, etc.), but there are others that tend to imply that we won’t be conscious. I don’t know. I rather suspect we will be conscious, but that’s all beside the point.

In the story of Lazarus’ resurrection in John 11, I would be willing to bet that when Lazarus drew his last breath that he didn’t expect his next experience to be hearing Jesus’ voice call him back to life. But because we have that story in Scripture, I can also know that if I am unconscious after I die that the next voice I may hear will be the voice of Jesus calling me out of my grave, too, or his face greeting me on “the other side”.

Sort of puts a bit more excitement and anticipation into the concept of dying as I see it!  

PRAYER: Jesus, while we don’t know what it will be like to die, it is tremendously comforting to know that your face or your voice will be our next conscious experience! In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2016, Galen C. Dalrymple. All rights reserved.