DayBreaks for 10/31/17 – Where Things Go to Die

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DayBreaks for 10/31/17: Where Things Go to Die

Yeah, I know it’s Halloween, and there will be “zombies” walking around carrying buckets and bags for candy tonight. There will be other “undead” creatures wandering the sidewalks and streets, but this DayBreaks doesn’t really have anything to do with dead things like that. But it does have to do with where things can go to die.

I lived on the farm as a kid, and it wasn’t unusual for a cat or a skunk to go into a crawl space that ran under the side of the corn crib when it came their time to die. You typically wouldn’t see them – you’d smell them before you noticed that they were no longer around. And even for us humans, we have places we tend to die: at home, in a hospital, at a convalescent center. After all, we will all die and we need a place where we can do that.

But what I’m interested in today is a lyric from a song in worship on Sunday that talked about the place where all our sin and shame goes to die. That place? The cross of Jesus, of course!

What does it mean that our sin and shame can truly go there to die? It means that I don’t need to feel crushed any longer by the sin in my life, no matter what that sin may be. It is dead. It is nailed to the cross. And I also no longer have to be weighed down with my shame for all that I’ve done, and all the good that I know I should have done, but which I left undone. That shame, the reports of those things, will never be revealed as I’ve been washed clean and carry the shame of my deeds and thoughts no longer. And if my shame were to be revealed, rather than being embarrassed by it, I should exult in the greatness and completeness of His forgiveness and grace. Instead of dying of my shame, my shame died so I can exalt His greatness!

Some dead things, like cats in a crawl space, stink. My sin and shame is dead, too, and the scent of the grace of Jesus accompanies my soul. In the Father’s eyes, it is as if those things never happened for the price was paid that took those things away…forever!  

PRAYER: Thank you for providing the perfect place for our sin and shame to die and be hidden for eternity! In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright by 2017 by Galen C. Dalrymple.

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DayBreaks for 10/27/17 – How Could He Not Have Sinned?

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DayBreaks for 10/27/17: How Could He Not Have Sinned?

Hebrews 4:15 (ESV) – For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin.

Yesterday, I wrote about Peter’s denial and how God used stories like that to encourage us in our human weakness – not to encourage us to be weak – but to know that in spite of our failures He still loves us. We are just like Peter. There is only One who lived a sinless life.

So, how did Jesus do it? How did he manage to live sinlessly?

Philosophers and theologians like to debate subjects which may seem trivial at times. And they like to sound like they know what they’re talking about. My guess is that philosophers probably come closer to knowing what they are talking about because I’m not convinced that finite human minds can really begin to grasp God and His mysteries very well.

One such subject in the theological realm is the peccability of Christ. Peccability means “liable to sin, susceptible to temptation”. In a nutshell, the argument is about whether or not Christ could really have sinned. The NT is clear he was human: he had to learn, grow, he got hungry and tired, he ate, he was tempted just like us, he cried, he bled, he died. It is equally clear that he was God: “I and the Father are One”, “If you have seen me, you have seen the Father”, etc.

So, if he wasn’t just half human and half divine, but fully human and fully divine, how could he have not sinned?

I think it must be the case that in his humanity he could have sinned, the divine nature was so much stronger (as one would expect) that he was able not to sin. It boils down, I think, to this: He was led by and in constant harmony with the Spirit that dwelt in him fully. And the strength of that Spirit because of Jesus’ walk in the Spirit was able to defeat every temptation.

And there’s the rub, isn’t it? Aren’t we supposed to have that same Spirit in us? Yes. So why don’t we live flawlessly? Because we are not in constant harmony with that Spirit. We don’t have the 100% God nature that Jesus had that enables him to overcome.

The secret to overcoming sin is to walk in the power of the Spirit. I wish I had a magic wand that would let me and you do that. My experience is that I’m not sufficiently in tune with the Spirit to overcome sin always – let alone often.

Should I despair over this sad state of affairs? Well, I certainly should repent when I fall and pray for the power of the Spirit to be unleashed more in my life, but I don’t think God wants us to despair over it. I believe that the same divine nature that was able to prevent sin in Jesus will, through the blood of Jesus, present me to God sinless and pure on the day of Judgment. And that’s something not to despair over, but to rejoice in!

PRAYER: Jesus, we all need to walk more in the power of Your Spirit. Mortify the fleshly desires that lead us into sin, and help us cry out for help when we are tempted rather than stifling Your power to keep us from sinning. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright by 2017 by Galen C. Dalrymple.

DayBreaks for 9/15/17 – Your Garden of Gethsemane

DayBreaks for 9/15/17: Your Garden of Gethsemane

From the DayBreaks archive, 9/2007:

Have you ever stopped to think how many decisions you will make in any given day?  We make decisions all the time without even thinking about it.  When we think of decisions, we tend to think of the weightier matters of life – and that’s a good thing.  Weighty matters deserve lots of thought as we try to decide what to do.  Hopefully, if you are a Christian, the very first thing you contemplate is whether or not the thing you are doing is in God’s will.  Regardless of whatever other factors you choose to apply to decisions you are facing and making, that one should be the most prominent. 

How do you know His will?  I’m not going to try to provide an exhaustive list here, but certainly His revealed and written Word is our primary tool for discerning his will.  If we cavalierly throw that out the window, we have no solid basis for a decision.  God expects us to follow the Word when we are facing decisions.  That means we have to accept it as truth, not try to explain it away or rationalize why it doesn’t apply to us.

One of my favorite stories about the life of Jesus has to do with his night in the garden of Gethsemane, my favorite place in the Holy Land.  I am moved by that story – even more, I think, that by the story of the crucifixion itself.  Physical pain is one thing, but spiritual pain can be far worse.  It was in the garden that we’re told Jesus was in agony – not on the cross.  (I’m not minimizing what happened upon those old timbers – I am sure there was incredible agony there, too.)  It was in the garden that he wrestled with both flesh and blood and principalities and powers in the heavenly places.  Why?  Because in the garden he was faced with the decision that would form the crux of his life.  It all culminated there, in the shadows of the olive trees, as the Son of God knelt down in the dirt and made the most crucial decision in all of history: would he do things his way, or God’s way?

There are times and decisions in our lives that are seemingly insignificant (although I’d like to argue that one with you – notice I said “seemingly insignificant”), but then there are moments that clearly rise into the stratosphere in terms of importance.  At those times we are faced with our own garden of Gethsemane.  We must decide whether our prayer will be, “Nevertheless, my will not Thine be done,” or if we’ll echo Jesus’ words: “Nevertheless, not my will but Thine be done.” 

You may be wrestling with a decision today that has life-altering potential, that once made may not be able to be undone ever.  Have you considered what God’s Word would say about it?  If you know how God feels about it, what will you do about it?  You may be facing your own garden of Gethsemane right now.  What will your prayer be?

PRAYER:  Spirit, help us not to fail the test in moments of crisis.  Strip away Satan’s deceptions from our eyes so that we can see what is at stake in the decisions of life!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 6/20/17: The Wonder of Wonder Woman

DayBreaks for 6/20/17: The Wonder of Wonder Woman

OK, I’m not ashamed to admit it: my wife and I went to see Wonder Woman over the weekend. It was a rollicking good time, and I think I enjoyed it every bit as much as my wife did – and she loved it a lot! I love stories where there is a strong woman character – always have, I guess.

Anyway, after the movie, we were reflecting on the movie and we were both thinking along the same lines. There were many parallels (some really strong, others a bit more of a stretch) to the gospel story. Perhaps – unwittingly – that’s why so many people have loved the movie. It makes me wish they understood the true reason the story resonated with their imaginations and heart!

A few years back, John Eldredge wrote a short book, Epic, and had a video series to accompany it that I believe explains what I’m talking about. Here’s the excerpt from Amazon.com’s description of Epic: Life, for most of us, feels like a movie we’ve arrived to forty minutes late. Sure, good things happen, sometimes beautiful things. But tragic things happen too. What does it mean? We find ourselves in the middle of a story that is sometimes wonderful, sometimes awful, usually a confusing mixture of both, and we haven’t a clue how to make sense of it all. No wonder we keep losing heart. We need to know the rest of the story.

For when we were born, we were born into the midst of a great story begun before the dawn of time. A story of adventure, of risk and loss, heroism . . . and betrayal. A story where good is warring against evil, danger lurks around every corner, and glorious deeds wait to be done. Think of all those stories you’ve ever loved―there’s a reason they stirred your heart. They’ve been trying to tell you about the true Epic ever since you were young.

In Wonder Woman, as in Titanic, Gladiator, Lord of the Rings, Braveheart and nearly every other movie that is grand and epic in scale, the story is the same, only told with different characters, somewhat different circumstances and settings. It goes like this: there was something grand and glorious, but something horrible happens and a hero has to rise to make things right and to rescue what has been lost – usually at great cost to her/himself. But in the end, things wind up restored.

In Wonder Woman, Diana is supposed to be half-human and half-god (I didn’t realize that before seeing the movie) who lives in a peaceful, beautiful place that is separated from the world of trouble, but one day, that is shattered. Diana feels compelled to do something about it – so she journeys to the broken world to fix things in spite of the fact that she’ll never be able to return to her original home again. While there, she fights to overcome evil – and to some extent she does, but she also learns that there is something fundamentally broken inside of human beings that she cannot fix.

Do you begin to see the parallels? Jesus was in heaven – he didn’t have to come, but he chose to – driven by compassion. He wasn’t half-human and half-God, he was 100% human and 100% God. He entered into the broken world because he felt compelled to do so out of love and compassion. He fights against the lord of this world, against the chaos and suffering and it cost him dearly. But, the victory is won and in the end, it turns out OK.

There are differences, too, and one in particular that I think is well worth noting. While I was intrigued by the final battle in Wonder Woman where Diana fights against Ares (the Greek god of war in mythology), she had to struggle to obtain victory. Not so with Jesus – at least not in the final battle. In the final battle, the fate of mankind won’t hang in the balance when Christ returns. It won’t be a struggle with the outcome uncertain. It won’t take several minutes for the enemy to be defeated. When God decrees the end – the victory will be instantaneous, unilateral, unequivocal and total – in the time it takes God to say “It is finished!” Satan will collapse like the pretender that he has been for millennia, his vaunted strength revealed to be nothing more than a trifle by the power of the One Who speaks.

Wonder Woman was fascinating entertainment. Jesus is the real thing.

PRAYER: Jesus, we long for you to glorify yourself at your return and to see you absolutely, totally and forever crush the enemy in an instant. Thank you for things that remind us of the epic story of which we are a part! In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 5/24/17 – The Shout of Victory!

DayBreaks for 5/24/17: The Shout of Victory

John 19:30 (NIV) – When he had received the drink, Jesus said, “It is finished.” With that, he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.

The final words of Jesus from the cross have often been misconstrued.  Some movies have pictured Christ, with uplifted eyes, croaking out softly, resignedly, “It is finished” and then bowing his head and dying.  I don’t believe that is an accurate picture at all, and here’s why: when we compare the four gospels we find a very interesting thing. The other three do not tell us that Jesus said, “It is finished.” But what they do tell us that he died with a great shout upon his lips.  John doesn’t speak of a great shout, but instead tells us that Jesus’ very last words were, “It is finished.”  We can safely conclude that the great shout and the words “It is finished,” are one and the same thing.  In Greek, “It is finished” is one word — tetelestai — and that’s what Jesus shouted.  It was no meek or resignedly defeated word that he spoke.  He didn’t say, “It is finished,” in weary defeat; he shouted it out just like a person shouts for joy because the victory is won!  He seemed to be broken on the Cross, but he was NOT!  He was victorious on the cross!
Just in case you think I might be wrong, there’s another strong clue that makes this concept even more certain.  John says that Jesus bowed his head and gave up his spirit. The word that John uses is the word that was often used to describe someone setting their head back upon a pillow and entering into rest.  For Jesus the strife was over and the battle was won; and even on the Cross he knew the joy of victory and the well-deserved rest of one who has completed his task and can lean back, content and at peace.

What a wonderful picture – not of a quiet, broken Jesus on the cross, but of one who knows that it is finished, that it has been finished well, that it will never have to be repeated again.  The price for my sin has ALL been paid!

Do you believe that? That everything that it took for you to be saved and forgiven is finished? That there’s nothing more that you can add to make it more sure? That there’s nothing more that God needs to do for it to be true? That you, too, can rest your head knowing that it is all finished? Maybe the next time we get discouraged in our walk and relationship with Jesus, we would do well to shout out, “It is finished!”

PRAYER:  Will we ever really grasp the victory that was won on Your cross, Lord?  We hang our heads in shame that you had to pay such a price for us, yet we lift our eyes to you in gratitude and wonder for your love.  May we echo your words, “It is finished!” regarding our sinfulness.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2017 by Galen Dalrymple.

 

DayBreaks for 5/08/17 – Don’t Let Being Human Stop You

DayBreaks for 5/08/17: Don’t Let Being Human Stop You

From the DayBreaks archive, May 2007:

One of the most frustrating things that I hear is people who say, “I hope I’m good enough to go to heaven.”  Of course, the corollary to it is: “I’m afraid I’m not good enough to go to heaven.”  Those statements drive me nuts.  Of course you’re not good enough to go to heaven!  None of us are good enough…but that doesn’t mean we won’t go there, thanks to the grace and mercy of God and the sacrifice of the Savior!

Grace.  What a wonder it is, and how little we believe in it!  For those of us who grew up in grace-challenged environments, when the first breath of grace blows through the soul it is like a world that has been dead and frozen for so long has suddenly thawed!  It reminds me of the scene in The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe where spring finally breaks in Narnia after a long, long time.  The warmth of the sun is once again felt, the buds open, the flowers appear and the birds sing once again.  Grace.  How little we know of it!

Our world is not fond of grace.  Our world is more than happy, thank you very much, to point out on a constant basis the failures and faults in our lives.  At work you probably hear more about what you’ve done wrong than what you’ve done right.  At school, they mark up your papers with your mistakes, not your successes.  And if you don’t hear it from other folks, there’s that nagging little voice inside your head that says something like this: “I knew you couldn’t do it.  You’re not much good for anything are you?  You can’t even do the simplest things right, can you?  Why don’t you just give up and quit?”  I’ve heard that voice…I’ve had the conversation with myself many, many times.

In Hearing God, Dallas Willard wrote: “The humanity of Moses, David and Elijah, of Paul, Peter and Jesus Christ himself – of all that wonderful company of riotously human women and men whose experience is recorded in the Bible and in the history of the church teaches us a vital lesson: our humanity will not by itself prevent us from knowing and interacting with God just as they did.

Do you think that Moses, David, Elijah, Paul and Peter never made it to heaven?  They were just every bit as human as you and I.  But no one I know thinks that any of those folk are not in heaven.  They’re not there because they were better than anyone else, because they weren’t “too bad” to go, or because they were “good enough.”  There will be a lot more Bob’s, Mary’s, Jane’s and Joe’s in heaven than Moses, Peter or Paul.  And they won’t be there because they’re better, or even as good, as Moses, David and Elijah.  They, like those great names mentioned earlier, will be there because God loves them and they put their trust in His promised son, Jesus.  That’s the only basis for anyone to get there.  Stop hoping and wishing that you were better so you could “get there.”  Start practicing your belief in God’s promises!

John 18:9 (NLT) – He did this to fulfill his own statement: ‘I have not lost a single one of those you gave me.

PRAYER: Father, we listen to the subtle whisperings of the enemy far more than we do to You.  We believe his words of condemnation rather than live in Your victorious grace.  May we become people who trust more in Your Word than in the voices in our head.  In Jesus’ name, Amen

Copyright 2017 by Galen Dalrymple.

 

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.