DayBreaks for 3/20/19 – Listen Slowly

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DayBreaks for 3/20/19: Listen Slowly

Matthew 17:5 (CSBBible) – While he was still speaking, suddenly a bright cloud covered them, and a voice from the cloud said: “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well-pleased. Listen to him!”

Writer Charles Swindoll once found himself with too many commitments in too few days. He got nervous and tense about it. He was snapping at his wife and children, choking down his food at mealtimes, and feeling irritated every time there was an unexpected interruption in his day. He recalls in his book, Stress Fractures, that before long, things around their home started reflecting the pattern of his hurry-up life style. He said the situation was becoming unbearable. Then it happened.

After supper one evening his younger daughter, Colleen wanted to tell him something important that had happened to her at school that day. She began hurriedly, “Daddy, I wanna tell you somethin’ and I’ll tell you really fast.”

Suddenly realizing her frustration, Swindoll answered, “Honey, you can tell me — and you don’t have to tell me really fast. Say it slowly.” He has never forgotten her answer: “Then listen slowly.”

Can’t you hear God’s voice in a new light, saying to Peter, James, and John: “This is my Son, listen to him! Slow down. Don’t be so quick to move things your way, to shape the world as you see it Peter. Don’t be so quick to climb the corporate ladder, to join the rat pack and be number one John. Don’t try to beat your colleagues to the first position James. Slow down. My Son is trying to show you another way, another world, another kingdom. If you will listen slowly.”

Let’s resolve speak less quickly and be slower listeners to Jesus!

PRAYER: Jesus, help us to talk less and listen to you more slowly!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

 

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DayBreaks for 3/19/19 – Use versus Value

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DayBreaks for 3/19/19: Use Versus Value

From the DayBreaks archive, March 2009:

Oswald Chambers devotion for February 21 had this to say: “To be surrendered to God is of more value than our personal holiness. Concern over our personal holiness causes us to focus our eyes on ourselves, and we look, out of fear of offending God…”but perfect love cast out fear…” once we are surrendered to God (I John 4:18). We should quit asking ourselves, “Am I of any use?” and accept the truth that we really are not of much use to Him. The issue is never of being of use, but of being of value to God Himself. Once we are totally surrendered to God, He will work through us all the time.”

Wow. Pretty profound. Consider:

“Concern over our personal holiness causes us to focus our eyes on ourselves…” We should pay attention to personal holiness, right? Sure. But should be worry over it? No. Why? Well, to borrow a few words from Jesus: which of us by thought or effort can make ourselves holier than God has already made us? If we have been cleansed by the blood of Christ, you just can’t get any holier than that! Yet we stare at the face in the mirror and get overwhelmed by the guilt-stricken individual that we see. When will we learn to fully trust Christ’s work for us on the cross? That the cleansing isn’t temporary or partial or incomplete, but that it is full, complete and eternal? We spend too much time looking at ourselves and our failings and not nearly enough looking at what God has done. We need to surrender our concern about our holiness to Him because He is the One who has pronounced us righteous and holy.

As to the usefulness statements: does it hurt you to know that you aren’t of use to God? Well, I mean, in a way, when you get right down to it, He doesn’t need anything that we can do for Him. He doesn’t need us to make money so He can continue to live surrounded by heaven’s luxuries, He doesn’t need us to make Him dinner, He doesn’t need us at all. He is Self-sufficient. How can you be of use to anyone who is absolute in all regards? You can’t. But as Chambers notes, there is a huge difference between being of use and being of value. Think about it: how much usefulness is there in a 3-day old baby? Not much. They can’t do anything for you. They are helpless and dependent. But now let us ask the other question: how much value does that 3-day old baby have to you? Get the point?

God doesn’t need either me…or you. But does He value you? Absolutely! He places such a high value on you that He bankrupted heaven of its greatest treasure just for you!

Prayer: Help us to trust in the completed work of Jesus and the cleansing You have given us!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

 

DayBreaks for 3/15/19 – Perfect Love

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DayBreaks for 3/15/19: Perfect Love

From the DayBreaks archive, March 2009:

And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in him. In this way, love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the day of judgment, because in this world we are like him. There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.  –  1 John 4:16-18 (NIV)

I think that this passage says more about love than I’ve ever realized or appreciated.  It starts out talking about how we know and rely on God’s love for us, followed by John’s short but simple declaration: God is love.  Isn’t that wonderful news?  What if it had not been so?  What if all John could say about God was something like, “God is anger” or “God is unstable” or “God is vindictive.”  Thank goodness that God is not those things, but that primarily over and above anything else, He is love. 

Secondly, if we live in love, God lives in us.  That suggests, as I wrote about a week ago, that without God we cannot love at all.  He first loved us…and when we live in that knowledge and awareness, then we can love – but not before.  Love is made complete in us (nothing lacking) so we can have confidence that when the judgment rolls around, we have nothing to fear. 

But then comes the point I want to look at today.  There is no fear in love.  But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment.  The one who fears is not made perfect in love.  If you are like me, you’ve probably taken this verse about perfect love casting out fear and berated yourself because you fear of God.  First, let me say that it is not such a bad thing to have a healthy respect/fear of God – Jesus in fact told us to fear the one (God) who can cast both body and soul into hell.  Fear, it seems, is not an unwarranted response to the immensity of God’s power. 

That being said, perfect love casts out fear, taking away our fear of punishment in the judgment.  I’ve asked myself over and over many times, why do I remain fearful of God?  Partly it is because I know my sins, and as David put it, they are “ever before me.”  No matter how hard I try to pretend, they are real and they are very, very many.  Partly it is because my love for God is not yet perfected – so my love is not “perfect”, it has holes in it – largely because all human loves have always carried pain with them and we have to protect ourselves from being hurt too badly and too deeply. 

But, as I thought about this passage, I think I’ve got another point of view on it, too.  What love is perfect, or maybe a better way to put it would be “Whose love is perfect?”  Certainly not mine or yours.  There is nothing about us that is perfect or complete.  Only God’s love is perfect.  This phrase “perfect love drives out fear” may be talking more about God’s love for me than of my love for Him.  His love is the only perfect love.  His love drives out the fear that comes from impending and fearful punishment.  It is, as John said, God who lives in us. 

I need to apprehend the love of God more in order to drive out the fear that sometimes invades my soul.  My own love will never be perfect enough to drive it away, but His can…and will.

Prayer:  Amazing love, how can it be, that You my Lord should die for me!  May we apprehend the perfect love You have for us as our Father that will drive away our fear!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

 

Daybreaks for 3/12/19 – When the Light Dawns

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DayBreaks for 3/12/19: When the Light Dawns

From the DayBreaks archive, March 2009:

You know how you feel when you re-read a certain passage of Scripture and discover in it a thought that you’d never seen before?  That happened to me as I prepared recently for a sermon on God’s love.  I’ve been preaching a series on the nature of God – trying to understand and know Him better so that we can rest confidently and with peace in Who He Is and what we are to him.  Unless we can rest in assurance that God is every bit as good as His word and unlike people who flip-flop daily, we will never be willing to risk much for a God who is flaky and unreliable.  Why should we?  He might fail us when we need Him most, or He may decide to change the rules of the “game” of life capriciously and viciously.  He is, after all, under no obligation to tell us if He did such a thing.  So, if He’s not trustworthy in Who He Is and what He does, we’re in a world of trouble if we risk anything on or for him.  When I came to the section on dealing with God’s love, I read 1 John 4:19 again (for probably the hundredth time or more) but saw something new in it this time.  You’ve gotta love how the Spirit works!!!

Where does love come from?  1 John 4:19 tells us: We love because He first loved us.  Whenever I’d read this verse previously, I automatically assumed that it was taking about us loving God in response because He loved us first – sort of a cause and effect thing like “Every action demands and equal and opposite reaction.”  But let me encourage us to look more closely at what this verse says.  It doesn’t say that we love God because it’s a response to His love towards us.  It simply says, “We love because He first loved us.”  Was John perhaps telling us something about from where love springs?  Why do we love AT ALL?  Because He loved us first – in the beginning – at the very start of our existence.  Was John trying to tell us that God put the hunger and our need for love within us along with the very image of God Himself?  Maybe you’ve heard the arguments for God’s existence that run along these lines: we have no way to explain the idea of good and evil without there being a Source of good in the universe and a source(s) of evil.  But, because there is good – there must be a God.  I’ll grant you that it’s not the strongest argument for God’s existence, but it is a valid one, I think. 

In a similar vein, I think John was trying to tell us that His love is what awakens love in us at all – otherwise, we’d know nothing of love, period.  Love wouldn’t exist at all in the absence of God.  The lovesickness that often pervades our hearts is there because we are haunted by the memory of God’s love that was put into our souls when He created us.  This love isn’t just mushy sentiment.  It is the kind of love the Father to the prodigal son showed when he hitched up his robes, cast aside his own dignity and ran to meet the returning prodigal. 

Have you ever considered yourself in the story of the prodigal?  Who is it that runs to greet you?  Is it not Christ, risen, yet bearing the scars in his hands and feet and on his back from the scourging and his head from the crown of thorns?  Is it not this Christ who has hitched up his robes and comes running to meet you while you are yet far away?

I love it when the Light of the Word dawns on us!

Prayer:  The mysteries and depth of Your Word is astounding!  We rejoice in the truths You show us about the reality of the world in which we live and the truth about the universe You have created!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

 

DayBreaks for 3/8/19 – The Heart of the Scandal

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DayBreaks for 3/08/19: The Heart of the Scandal

From the DayBreaks archive March 2009:

Why was Jesus such a stumbling block to the Jews?  Why is he such a hurdle for modern man to overcome and welcome?  There probably are as many excuses (and perhaps reasons) as there are folks who refuse to accept him – then, or now.  I can think of several reasons:

FIRST: no one wants to be told they have to die to themselves.  After all, haven’t we been raised with the encouragement to “follow your own heart”?  And doesn’t that seem like good advice?  “Be true to yourself.”  But….this is not biblical advice AT ALL!  The heart is “desperately wicked”, Scripture says.  Why follow it?  If anything, we need to lead our hearts to the cross over and over and there kneel down in the dirt realizing that our most righteous acts smell like dirty, rotten, filthy socks or underwear (“rags” as Scripture puts it.)  To follow our hearts will get us in trouble every time.  Jesus said we need to die to ourselves – we don’t want to do that.

SECOND: Jesus says our focus should be on things above – and our concern should be for the coming and completion of the kingdom of God.  Again, this takes the focus off of us.

THIRD: while we aren’t saved by obedience, Jesus made it clear that God cares about holiness.  Sadly, too many of us care more about our own “fun” – which usually means we are doing things which may be unholy that are momentarily fun but which are unholy and deadly in the long run.

FOURTH: here’s the point I really want to make about why Jesus is hard for many to accept.  Do you recall the 1996 song by Joan Osborne titled, “What If God Were One of Us?”  There were those who found the song sacrilegious, and I can understand that.  But that is the very same reason that so many rejected Jesus in his life – including friends and family members – they felt he was sacrilegious when he claimed to be God – “like one of us.”  Phillip Yancey said, “By any measure Jesus led a tragic life: rumors of illegitimacy, taunts of insanity from his family, rejection by most who heard him, betrayal by friends, the savage turn of a mob against him, a series of justice-mocking trials, execution in a form reserved for slaves and violent criminals.  A pitiful story, to be sure, and that is the heart of the scandal: we do not expect to pity God.”

That the Messiah would suffer and die was never in the Jewish psyche.  The Messiah, they thought, would never do those things.  They couldn’t live with a Messiah who would suffer and die – so they killed him to be sure.  And we can’t live without such a Savior. 

Prayer: Who would have believed our report, that the Son of God should suffer and die for sinners!  Father God, Lord Jesus, Holy Spirit – thank you for this wonder and mystery of your love for us!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

 

DayBreaks for 3/7/19 – A Personal Friend

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DayBreaks for 3/07/19: A Personal Friend

From the DayBreaks archive February 2009:

Much is said these days about being friends with God or Jesus.  It was not always so.  For many long years (centuries probably, and millennia possibly) mankind was so much in awe of the Divine Creator that some groups wouldn’t even dare to pronounce His name.  Others held that the gods were disinterested in the doings of mere mortals…except to use us as their playthings for times when they got bored.  And, of course, there have always been those who blasphemed and spoke ill of their “gods”, too.   

But when Jesus came, he turned those notions upside down.  He said he would not longer call his disciples servants, but friends.  He taught His disciples to pray using the term, Abba (Daddy), when speaking to the Father. 

Yet, how does one really get to know God personally?  In his book, Reaching for the Invisible God, Phillip Yancey wrote: “In Jesus’ day the answer was shocking simple: you know him the same way you know anybody.  You introduce yourself, shake hands, strike up a conversation, inquire about his family.  Because of Jesus we need never question God’s desire for intimacy.  Does God really want close contact with us?  Jesus gave up Heaven for it.  In person he reestablished the original link between God and human beings, between seen and unseen worlds.”

In the Old Testament, God is spoke of and called “Father” a total of 11 times.  But what a change when we get to the New Testament, that refers to God as our Father a stunning 170 times! 

How do you get to know God personally?  Get to know Jesus.  Read the gospels, but don’t just read them.  On each page are jewels to be gathered about the nature of Jesus, of the things that stirred his heart, the way little things caught his attention and the way he reacted to people, places and things.  You can read his words.  And, through the Spirit, He is with us still.  While you may not be able to shake his hand as the disciples long ago did, you can still talk to him – and listen to him.  Oh, how much we miss by not asking him to speak with us more than we do!  Somewhere we got this infernal idea that prayer is about talking.  It’s not.  It’s to be far more about listening, I believe.

Yes, Jesus is a friend and a personal one at that.  But he’s also far more than just a personal friend, this friend is God.

Prayer: What a friend we have in Jesus!  We give you glory Father God for such a perfect revelation of Yourself!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

 

DayBreaks for 2/27/19 – The Great Value of Faith

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DayBreaks for 2/27/19: The Great Value of Faith

From the DayBreaks archive February 2009:

Yes, you know the verse about “Without faith it is impossible to please Him.”  So, faith is non-negotiable, if we are to please God.  But God, why?  Why does faith sometimes have to be so hard? 

In Daniel 10 is one of the most fascinating stories in Scripture.  Daniel was in prayer – and had been for some time – when Daniel becomes perplexed by why his prayer, offered in faith to the Living God, wasn’t answered already.  Since Daniel was a faithful servant of the Most High, the Lord sent an angel to Daniel to grant him a peek behind the curtain of the spiritual world.  For three weeks, in the unseen world that we can only “see” by faith, the angels says he tried to come and deliver the answer to Daniel’s prayer, but he was resisted by the “prince of the Persian kingdom.”  The angel by himself, so it reads, was not able to overcome that resistance, and had to wait for reinforcements from a heavenly power named Michael, the great archangel of God’s army. 

This passage has caused me endless trouble and distress.  Why, for example, did God wait 3 weeks to dispatch Michael to defeat the source of resistance?  Surely, God knew this was going on and would happen.  Why didn’t God just send Michael to start with?  And what does it mean that the first angel couldn’t overcome the resistance by himself?  Could the angel not have asked Got to remove it, or to give him/her the strength to defeat the resistance?  Such questions are not necessarily confidence builders for me.

Elsewhere, the Bible talks about prayer and uses the term “wrestle” to describe that activity.  It brings to mind, of course, the story of Jacob wrestling with the angel.  Perhaps prayer is much more like real, physical wrestling than we’ll ever know.  In our prayers, we are at war with principalities and powers that are in the unseen world.  Wrestling is hard work.  How much wrestling am I doing in my prayer life? 

Another thought: do angels have to learn faith and trust, too?  What was the lesson for the angel in all this, if any?  Is it possible that even angels are on a faith-journey, side by side with us, just unseen?

I don’t know, nor do I have to know.  But as Phillip Yancey put it, “I doubt Daniel ever prayed casually again.”  Nor should we!

Prayer: Father, may we be willing to engage the enemy in prayer, to call down Your power to bring victory, to release oppression and to pour forth holiness on this earth!  Give us the strength to fight for the souls of the lost, knowing that there are unseen enemies waging war with us.  Give us the wisdom to not fight in our own strength, but only in Yours!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.  

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