DayBreaks for 2/13/17 – Neither Do I Condemn You

DayBreaks for 2/13/17: Neither Do I Condemn You

Most readers of DayBreaks are familiar with the story from John 7:53 – 8:11 about the encounter of Jesus with the woman who was caught in the act of adultery. But, in case you’re not, the scribes and Pharisees brought the woman to Jesus. They wanted Jesus to stone her. Jesus’ reply no doubt took them back a bit: Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her. Because of Jesus’ comment, the religious leaders backed off and went away. When you read the story, it is clear that the religious zealots rejected this women and were quick to condemn her. So, what would Jesus do? How will he handle this ticklish situation? Since Jesus knew that her accusers had no right to condemn her (because of their own sins), Jesus turned his attention to the woman after her accusers had left and said five words that must have put her at great ease: Neither do I condemn you.

As a former pastor, I can’t start to tell you how many people I’ve talked with over the years who felt condemned by God. They believed He had turned his back on them because of something they’d done or not done, and the words, “neither do I condemn you” are as foreign to them as someone speaking Martian. Why? Because their view of Christianity is that if you “perform” right, God is for you, and if you don’t, you’re on his “bad” list and you’d better now walk outside for fear of being hit with a lightning bolt.

Think about the story for a minute. Did the woman deserve forgiveness? No. Did she deserve justice? Yes. Did she come groveling to Jesus begging mercy? No! But she found it anyway because that’s what Jesus longs to give to us all. 

Of course, the question will always be raised: “Does this mean we can we can do whatever we want? No, because Jesus followed up his statement to her with “Go and sin no more.” But that doesn’t in any way diminish he extravagant statement of grace and mercy.

Perhaps you are in need of hearing both of those statements from Jesus: “Neither do I condemn you – go, and sin no more.”

Then, when you do sin, as you inevitably will, hold on this promise: 1 John 1:9-10 (ESV): If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

Perhaps today you need to hear the voice of Jesus saying, Neither do I condemn you. Why? Romans 8:1 (NLT) So now there is no condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus.

Do you belong to Jesus? If you do, there is no condemnation and he does not condemn you. Rest in that knowledge!

PRAYER: Jesus, thank you for this story in Scripture and the hope that it offers to each one of us who need to know that you do not condemn us! In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2017 by Galen Dalrymple.

DayBreaks for 1/31/17 – Broken

DayBreaks for 1/31/17: Broken

1 Corinthians 15:53-55 (ESV) For this perishable body must put on the imperishable, and this mortal body must put on immortality. When the perishable puts on the imperishable, and the mortal puts on immortality, then shall come to pass the saying that is written: “Death is swallowed up in victory.”

Adapted from our worship bulletin for 1/29/17:

“It’s the message you do and don’t want to hear. I was ready for my flight to take off for an important visit. We were loaded, bags on board, seatbelt fastened. The pilot came on the intercom and said, ‘We have a small lead in the hydraulic. Until maintenance clears us, we will not be able to depart.’

“Ugh. Now I faced the immediate future sitting with a bunch of other people who were ready to depart. No, I did not start sharing the gospel because in a flash the pilot made it works. ‘This plane is not fixable, so  you all have to deplane and we will get you another one as soon as we can!’

“So, we got off, sat and waited. In fact, as I write, I am still sitting. You see this is an unfinished story, Not every story has a neatly tied bow. Some are open ended.

“The good news is someone saw the flaw before a catastrophe happened. So, I am thankful for that. I will arrive, just later than I thought.

“So, where do you want to go? What are you pressing towards? Do you feel stuck? Do you feel like the plane to take you to your destination had arrived, and it broke? Are you having to wait? If so, now is the time to look around at your present surroundings but more importantly, look up! He knows where you are. He providentially has you there. Further, there are unseen and mysterious things going on that you don’t see. The best place for you, in His economy, is where you are. Eventually, you will move, so enjoy the grounding.”

Galen’s thoughts: I’ve been in that same spot – waiting for a broken plane to be fixed. I, too, was grateful that they found the problem while on the ground. Broken things lead to delays and they can be deadly unless the are addressed and rectified.

Life is like sitting on the tarmac. We are waiting the launch into the air, but we are broken. We need fixing first or otherwise the result will be catastrophic. Jesus is in the process of fixing us so that we can safely take wing and fly.

It calls for patience. It involves some pain and frustration. But the eventual outcome is that we will reach the destination that we long for. And it will have been worth the wait!

PRAYER: Help us wait patiently for the perfection you are creating in us! In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2017 by Galen Dalrymple.

DayBreaks for 12/8/16 – Taking the Joy Out of Christmas?

DayBreaks for 12/08/16: Taking the Joy Out of Christmas?

John the Baptist was born just shortly before Jesus, so I’m sure that he never preached a Christmas sermon in his life. But he did do a lot of preaching. His preaching wasn’t the warm, fuzzy, feel-good gospel. In fact, John couldn’t have had a very good grasp on the gospel itself until Jesus began to proclaim it – no one could have. Glimmers at best, flashes of what was coming, I’m sure, but not really any fine detail. And John’s message was one of repenting. His role was to prepare the people for the coming of the Messiah, much like preachers try to do at Christmas time nowadays.

If John felt that the best way to prepare people for the arrival of the Messiah was to talk about repentance, perhaps we should learn that we, too, should prepare for Christmas by repenting. Repenting in the Biblical sense is more than having a change of heart or a feeling of regret. It is more than a New Year’s Eve resolution. Repentance is a turning away and a turning back. A turning away from sin and a turning back to God.

Not quite a year ago, I stood in Bethlehem shortly after Christams and we saw what is known as Shepherd’s Field. Some time ago, bishop Joe Pennel of the Virginia Conference of the United Methodist Church, attended a Christmas worship service at Shepherd’s Field. As he heard the songs of the season, he thought to himself and later wrote: I did not look to God and say: See how virtuous I am. I did not utter: God, pat me on the back for all of the good things I have done. I did not pretend by saying: God, look at all of my accomplishments, aren’t you proud of me? Indeed, I found myself asking God to forgive me of my sins. That is how it works. The more we turn away from Christ the more enslaved we become to the power of sin. The more we turn to Christ, the more free we become from the bondage of sin. Turning toward Christ enables us to repent.

Someone once said half jokingly: If we are not careful, John the Baptist can take all of the fun out of Christmas. On the contrary, I think that it is John’s message that puts the joy into Christmas. For it is his message that calls us not to the way that Christmas is, but that the way Christmas ought to be. Christmas ought to be free from guilt and self-absorption. For that to occur there must be repentance. And then we are open to the good news that follows!

PRAYER: Jesus, as we draw near to the celebration of your birth, may we repent so that we are prepared to receive the joyous, good news that You bring to earth! In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 10/31/16 – Forgiveness and Present Realities

DayBreaks for 10/31/16 – Forgiveness and Present Realities

From the DayBreaks archive, October 2006:

NOTE: Galen is taking a short vacation.

Psalm 79:8-9 – Oh, do not hold us guilty for our former sins! Let your tenderhearted mercies quickly meet our needs, for we are brought low to the dust. Help us, O God of our salvation! Help us for the honor of your name. Oh, save us and forgive our sins for the sake of your name.

As I read and meditated on this passage, I found it interesting that David pleads with God to not hold us guilty of former sins.  What about the present ones?  What about all our future ones still waiting to be born? 

Surely, the plea is that God not hold us guilty at all, for we haven’t committed present or future sins yet – and at some point they will all be “former” sins – certain when we stand in judgment they will all be former!  Yet in a way, I suppose that we can only ask for forgiveness for the things that we have done – not for things we may yet do.  Our confession should be specific.  We cannot confess the truthful, yet painful, details of sins we’ve not yet committed. 

The Psalmist makes no claim to deserve such favor from God, only holding on to the “tenderhearted mercies” that belong to God, which David is confident will be quickly poured out to meet the needs of those who have humbled themselves.  Interestingly, his plea for God’s help is not for our sake or benefit, nor is it because we deserve it, but for the honor of God’s name.  Have you thought about how it would look if the Lord’s people are destitute forever, if there is no relief from the guilt and shame of sin, no ultimate vindication for those who cling to their faith like a drowning man holds to a piece of wood?  If such were the case, why would anyone want to be a follower, to be able to say “O God of OUR salvation”?  At some point, salvation must become a much more present reality than the way we experience it today, else there is nothing to draw us to it.  So, it is for the sake of the Lord’s name that we pray for His mercy to be poured out.

The day will come when the present reality is, pure and simple, the eternal reality.  At that time, all my sins will be in the past, already forgiven.  As I struggle through this life, that truth gives me strength to face another day full of hope and reassurance.

I am far too prone to see the benefits of God’s mercy and forgiveness and favor for my own benefit and comfort.  I need to learn to seek his mercies for the sake of His name.  How often do my reactions to unpleasant things in this life dishonor his name?  If I truly learn to celebrate His mercies for His name’s sake, I’ll be much better off and He will be glorified.

PRAYER:  Father, sometimes it is hard to believe that You forgive us so freely, for we know that there is nothing in us that could cause You to love and forgive us.  Help us to understand that You forgive us for Your own honor and sake, and that regardless of Your motive in forgiving us, that Your forgiveness is real and eternal.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 9/9/16 – Cleanse Me With Hyssop

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DayBreaks for 9/09/16 – Cleanse Me With Hyssop

NOTE: I have been moving this week, so I apologize for the intermittent DayBreaks.  Hopefully the internet will be on at home soon! From the DayBreaks archive, September 2006:

Psalms 51:7 (NIV) – Cleanse me with hyssop, and I will be clean; wash me, and I will be whiter than snow.

There is no greater Psalm of contrition, confession and repentance than Psalm 51.  The Psalm is David’s prayer to the Lord after he was confronted by the prophet, Nathan, about his adultery with Bathsheba and the murder of her husband, Uriah.  A thorough reading of the Psalm shows how deeply David felt his guilt: he describes it as a stain more than once, like indelible ink spilled on a white garment.  He describes his bones as having been crushed by God, and his longing to once again find the joy of his salvation.  He has hope because of God’s unfailing love and compassion.

Yet verse 7 contains a detail that is easy to pass over.  David asks to be cleansed with hyssop.  Hyssop was a plant that was used for several things in the Old Testament in relation to sacrifice and blood.  In particular, it seems that it gets its symbolic start with the Passover.  After the Passover was over, the people were to clean the blood of the lamb off the doorposts and lintel of their homes with hyssop.  That prompted several thoughts:

FIRST: David may be thinking of his blood-guilt for the death of Uriah, and he may be asking for the blood of Uriah to be wiped off of his heart and conscience so that he is haunted by it no more.  In this case, instead of the doorposts, David needs the blood removed off his guilty conscience;

SECOND: It could be a picture of how the blood of Christ cleans us, wipes our hearts and minds and consciences clean once again from the guilt of all we have done, or failed to do. 

Our plea, like David’s, should be for God’s cleansing.  If you are having trouble confessing your sin to God, pray your way through Psalm 51.  Or, if your guilt is so great that you can’t bear it – again, pray Psalm 51.  David did.  And he was restored.

PRAYER: We confess to you that there is nothing good within us, nothing to commend us to you, nothing to cause you to look with favor on us.  We are sinful and desperately in need of your forgiveness.  Please grant us your forgiveness, cleanse us with hyssop, and we will once again be clean and whiter than snow.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

 

DayBreaks for 8/22/16 – Misunderstanding Life – and the Father

 

DayBreaks for 8/22/16 – Misunderstanding Life – and the Father

There is no greater example of the gospel than that found in Luke 15 where Jesus tells three stories: the lost sheep, the lost coin…and the “prodigal son” story (and that’s a huge misnomer!) So, my dear, dear friend…this is a story for you…

Luke 15:17-20 (ESV) – But when he came to himself, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired servants have more than enough bread, but I perish here with hunger! I will arise and go to my father, and I will say to him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son. Treat me as one of your hired servants.”’ And he arose and came to his father. But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and felt compassion, and ran and embraced him and kissed him.

Our lead teacher (Randy) has been doing a series on this chapter and it has been so rich! Sunday, he spoke about this son – this younger, prideful, rebellious son and about his return home. There were some key points that I wanted to share from his message because they blessed me and I think they’ll bless you, too.

FIRST: this young, headstrong and inconsiderate man thought that in license there would be freedom. He wanted to cast off the restraints of living in the presence of the father, thinking that if he could only go and do what he wanted, to be in charge and control of his own life, that he could find happiness. But, as Randy noted, “License always ends in bondage.” We think that the lack of restraints is what will not only bring us joy, but bring us freedom. It won’t. It ends in bondage. License doesn’t set you free – the Truth is what sets us free!

SECOND: the son totally misunderstood the father. He is hoping against hope to be welcome to serve as a hired hand in the father’s house and business. That’s all he could aspire to, all he could imagine after what he’d done to his father. But this just shows how badly he misunderstood the father. There is no way that the father would take his son back as a hired hand! No! This son was treated to the father’s very own rob, to shoes for his feet, a ring for his hand…but far more than that, what was the greatest gift of the father was his embrace and kiss. Fathers don’t embrace and kiss hired hands…but they do their sons and daughters. This son had no idea how much he was loved by the father until the embrace and kiss took place!

THIRD: perhaps most importantly – and I hope you don’t miss this one – the embrace and kiss are NOT given to the son because he came home.  They are given because he was a son…a child so deeply loved by the father that no other response from the father was even possible! The embrace and kiss had to be given because the father couldn’t not constrain his love.

In order to come home, we have to believe in the love of the father. The young man believed – or rather hoped – that there was some compassion in the heart of his dad.  He just didn’t know the love that was in the father’s heart.

And so it is with you and me. We won’t come home (not to a physical or metaphysical place) but into the relationship of the Father’s person, unless we begin to believe He loves us. And when we make the first step, oh sweet joy! – the Father runs to us, encircles us with His almighty arms, and gives us a “welcome home” kiss!

Are you away from “home”, thinking that maybe if you’re super lucky, that the Father might let you inhabit the darkest corner of heaven as a sweeper of the golden street? Forget it! You will be welcomed as a beloved child – and the greatest celebration of all eternity will begin – and never end!

PRAYER: Oh, Father, Father, Father! Your love is so overwhelming! Help us believe that You love us like this – even more than this – and that we are welcome in the home of Your embrace forever! In the name of Christ Jesus, our Lord, Amen. 

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

 

DayBreaks for 8/8/16 – The Gospel in Twelve Words

DayBreaks for 8/08/16 – The Gospel in Twelve Words

How would you tell someone about the good news? Some have developed tracts, some have written entire books to explain the gospel. But I like how our preacher put it these past few weeks. It’s so simple, so to the point, that I love it!

Here it is: We lost it all. Jesus paid it all. We get it all.

We lost it all: what did we lose? In Adam we lost our innocence, the ability to literally walk by God’s side and speak directly to him, we lost life and we lost eternity. It all happened so quickly that it takes your breath away.

Jesus paid it all: our sin incurred a penalty that would have to be paid. And we were destined to pay it forever separated from God’s presence. But instead of us having to pay for our own sins, Jesus left the glories of heaven for earth, suffered and died and paid the penalty for our sin.

We get it all: because of Jesus completed work (and what a key word that is!!!!), we got back everything (and what a key word that is!!!!) that was lost in the first place – and more. Yes, we were made in God’s image, we were his creation in the beginning, but now we are called his friends, his sons and daughters…and we will reign with him – all because of the middle step: because Jesus paid it all!

So, the next time someone asks you about the gospel, just remember those twelve words; We lost it all; Jesus paid it all; We get it all!

Now, go and celebrate!!!!

PRAYER: Oh, Jesus! The beauty of the good news takes our breath away! Thank you, thank you, THANK YOU! In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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