DayBreaks for 6/19/19 – A Lesson from Screwtape

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DayBreaks for 06/19/09: A Lesson from Screwtape

From the DayBreaks archives, June 2009:

One of the most intriguing and insightful characters in Christian literature must be Wormwood.  Wormwood is a junior devil in C. S. Lewis’ Screwtape Letters.  The book consists of an exchange of letters from Screwtape (a senior devil) and Wormwood (Screwtape’s nephew and a junior devil) who is learning how to tempt humans. The subject of getting humans to fall and disobey gets a great deal of press. 

At one point, Screwtape has this to say to his nephew, Wormwood: “It is funny how mortals always picture us as putting things into their minds: in reality, our best work is done by keeping things out.” 

I don’t know about you, but I’ve often thought of the devil as putting tempting thoughts and images into my mind.  I don’t know how accurate Screwtape’s words are, but the point is well made.  Scripture would tend to back it up, methinks:

But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed. – James 1:14 (KJV)  It is our “own lust” that draws us away.  I don’t know about you, but whatever it is I might be lusting for (members of the opposite sex, chocolate, money, glory, etc.) comes from within me – not from outside me – which says something profound about us as humans and what lurks in our hearts.

Is there some kind of antidote for the poison that dwells with us?  If Screwtape was right, it seems to me that the answer is not in trying to keep things out of my mind, but to keep the right things in my mind: Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things. Philippians 4:8 (KJV)

May your mind be filled with these good things so there is no emptiness waiting to be filled by the sinful imaginings of our own hearts.

Prayer: Lord, help us to WANT to think on good things and to learn to abhor the evil we are so prone to contemplate.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

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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 1/18/19 – The Braggart

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DayBreaks for 01/18/2019: The Braggart

From the DayBreaks archive, January 2009:

I recently took a “fun” quiz that was forwarded around on the Internet, and one of the questions was to name a characteristic that you hate.  I have to admit that I struggled with that one.  I don’t enjoy being around complainers (fortunately, there are very few of those in my life!) or those who are always trying to impress someone with their talk or wisdom.  Maybe that’s because I can get easily confused and I’m not smart enough to follow their big words.  People who are always talking “big talk” to impress are generally very insecure people, and they remind me of this rather humorous story:

A man was driving through the countryside when suddenly his car stalled.  He got out to see what was wrong, and as he bent over the motor, he heard a voice say, ‘That trip to Japan was wonderful last spring.’  He looked around but saw no one.  All he could see was an old horse standing in the meadow.  The horse looked straight at him and said, ‘Yes, that trip was almost as good as the one to Paris and Rome the year before.’

Well, the man became almost hysterical with excitement.  He ran to the farmhouse at the edge of the meadow, pounded on the door, took out his billfold and said, ‘I want to buy that horse at any price.’  Calmly, the farmer replied, ‘Oh, you mustn’t pay too much attention to that horse.  He hasn’t been to half the places he talks about.’

Why is it that we have such a strong tendency to promote ourselves and talk about ourselves in ways that are intended to do nothing but try to impress others?  I think James 3:13-16 gives us some really good clues: If you are wise and understand God’s ways, live a life of steady goodness so that only good deeds will pour forth. And if you don’t brag about the good you do, then you will be truly wise! But if you are bitterly jealous and there is selfish ambition in your hearts, don’t brag about being wise. That is the worst kind of lie. For jealousy and selfishness are not God’s kind of wisdom. Such things are earthly, unspiritual, and motivated by the Devil. For wherever there is jealousy and selfish ambition, there you will find disorder and every kind of evil.

Bottom line: we either are bragging about the good things we do (and why would we do that? – to get the praise of humans!), OR we are jealous and full of selfish ambition and so we brag about what we’ve done and how good we are – the “worst kind of lie” as James put it.  Such things are not motivated by God or by trying to bring Him glory, but by the Devil!

How much better off we’d be if no one was trying to impress others!!!!  Let us be content to be what and who God created us to be.  When we live that way, we bring Him glory!

PRAYER: Father, may we trust in You to honor those who are genuine in Your time and may we not pursue the praise of other humans.  Help us to be content to be what You have made us to be!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 12/13/18 – The Great Anonymous

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DayBreaks for 12/13/18: The Great Anonymous

From the DayBreaks Archive, 12/9/98:

Sometimes it is hard to be anonymous, isn’t it? I mean, you work hard at your job and do something with great excellence – and someone up the line of responsibility from you gets the credit for it. Kind of gets your goat, doesn’t it? I mean, it isn’t like you are even asking to be given all the credit – just to be recognized. Or, if you are a housewife, haven’t you ever done something really well and it went unnoticed and unappreciated? It is no fun! If you’ve ever found yourself feeling left out, unacknowledged or unimportant, 1 Cor. 12 verses 22 and 24 were put in the Bible just for you: On the contrary, those parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable…while our presentable parts need no special treatment, but God has combined the members of the body and has given greater honor to the parts that lacked it….

Paul realized that even in his day, sometimes people feel unappreciated in the church. You may be feeling that way right now. You’ve labored behind the scenes for years cleaning the building, running the sound equipment, preparing the communion, changing diapers in the nursery, or printing the bulletin each week. Not everyone is or can be an “up-front” and public figure. But the church can’t function without EVERY piece of the body doing its job.

Sometimes we get things confused. Just because you may not be the person filling the pulpit doesn’t mean that you aren’t important. If there is anything that the passage from 1 Corinthians should teach us it is this: Don’t ever mistake being anonymous with being unnecessary or unimportant. Rather Paul calls the weaker parts of the body indispensable, and God gives greater honor to the parts of the body that lack honor. After all, if you are going to be honored, wouldn’t you rather it was God that honors you instead of your fellow men?

God remembers you and will reward you, Psalm 136:28: …to the One who remembered us in our low estate – His love endures forever. Recognition will come in due time to everyone who, rather than picking and choosing ministry opportunities based on talents, interest or recognition, obeys the command to “Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord.”

Prayer: Lord, may we seek Your approval…and Your approval ONLY!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright by 2018 by Galen C. Dalrymple.  ><}}}”>

DayBreaks for 10/26/18 – The Hunger to Be Somebody

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DayBreaks for 10/26/18: The Hunger to Be Somebody

What does success look like to you?

Winning the championship over all the other teams in your sports league?

Checking off every item on your to-do list?

Getting that new job or promotion you were hoping for?

Putting the kitchen in order after making a homemade meal from scratch?

To James and John, success looked like sitting next to Jesus, each on one side of their Lord, basking in his reflected glory. And that’s not particularly bad, is it? Don’t we all long to be next to Jesus? But there’s a problem: perhaps they imagined him as a king seated on a great throne with themselves as his trusted advisors on thrones that were just a little less glorious. Whatever their mental image, their longing for success was so strong that it overcame any reluctance they might have had in approaching Jesus.

At least the way they opened the conversation suggests some hesitation on their part. “Teacher,” they began, “we want you to do for us whatever we ask of you.” Instead of asking Jesus directly, James and John seemed to test him out first. Like children coming to Mom and Dad with something they know isn’t quite right, they apparently hoped that he would say yes first and ask questions later. But Jesus wisely and quite rightly responded with a question of his own: “What is it you want me to do for you?

Finally the two brothers made their request, “Grant us to sit, one at your right hand and one at your left, in your glory.” No wonder they had tried to approach Jesus in such a roundabout way. They hoped to be singled out for places of honor above everyone else, even above their fellow disciples.

Everybody wants to be somebody. Since the dawn of history, human beings have been trying to move up the scale of importance. The clincher used by the serpent to tempt Adam and Eve was “when you eat of [the tree of good and evil], your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil” (Gen. 3:5). Henri Nouwen says that ever since then, we have been tempted to replace love with power. “The long painful history of the church is the history of people ever and again tempted to choose power over love, control over the cross, being a leader over being led.” This is a theme running through the Bible, through human history and through our own psyche. Do you see it in yourself?

PRAYER: Lord, help us to be content with our identity as your beloved children and choose love rather than dominion or favor!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright by 2018 by Galen C. Dalrymple.  ><}}}”>

DayBreaks for 09/14/18 – A Shaken Soul

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DayBreaks for 9/14/18: A Shaken Soul

From the DayBreaks archive, September 2008:

From Michael Card, From the Studio:

(Peter) went in and found that many had assembled; and he said to them, “You yourselves know that it is unlawful for a Jew to associate with or to visit a Gentile; but God has shown me that I should not call anyone profane or unclean.”  Acts 10: 27-28 NRSV

“Jesus can make anyone clean, even the last person on earth Peter would expect to be clean: a Roman soldier, [possibly] one of the very ones who had crucified Jesus.  What an earthquake in Peter’s soul!  It was direct assault on his most basic beliefs.  But Jesus had come to shatter and redefine everything.  Certainly it is a shattered Simon who makes his way, for the first time in his life, into a Gentile dwelling.  He will find there men and women like himself who want nothing less than to eat the true bread of heaven.  People who, though they live in darkness, have nonetheless seen a great Light!

“The crowd Peter would have crossed the street to avoid, would have denied meal fellowship with, seems now bathed in a new light.  He sees bright eyes and hungry faces. He looks out at men and women, boys and girls who will suffer every bit as much as he will in the years to come for their allegiance to Jesus. He looks out on brothers and sisters.”

Galen’s Thoughts: how would you and I have reacted if we had the chance to preach the gospel to the crucifixion detail that crucified Christ?  How would you and I have reacted if invited to preach to the high priest and scribes who had Him arrested, beaten, spit on and condemned?  Would we have done it, or would we have pulled back in revulsion?

Each one of us knows someone that we just find, well…repulsive.  Someone who has done something so heinous either to ourselves or to someone we loved, that we can’t even stand the thought of being near them.  Would you share the gospel with them?  If not, why not?  Do you believe that’s how Jesus would have acted?

Let us remember that we’re not called to go into all the world and preach the gospel only to those who are fine, upstanding citizens and likeable folk.  For the most part, those people didn’t listen to Jesus (in fact, it was the upstanding citizens of Judea who had him arrested and put to death).  The repulsive – those with leprosy, the lame and mute (who everyone believed were sinners or they wouldn’t have had those ailments – even the dead and the sick of many stripes and colors, were the ones who listened to Jesus and responded to him.  If we want to fulfill the great commission, we must carry the gospel to everyone – everyone – even the Hitler’s, bin Laden’s, Pol Pot’s and mass murdering rapists.  That’s our job.  How they respond is their choice.  God won’t ask us if we convinced them – but will ask only if we “went” in obedience to the command. 

PRAYER: Keep us from prejudice and pride that might lead us to not share the good news with those who are most eager to receive it.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

COPYRIGHT 2018 by Galen C. Dalrymple. All rights reserved.

DayBreaks for 5/01/18 – All Things in the Right Place

 

DayBreaks for 5/01/18: All Things in the Right Place

From the DayBreaks archive, May 2008:     

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DayBreaks for 5/01/18: All Things in the Right Place

Job 38:4-7, 12-13 (NIV) – Where were you when I laid the earth’s foundation? Tell me, if you understand. Who marked off its dimensions? Surely you know! Who stretched a measuring line across it? On what were its footings set, or who laid its cornerstone–while the morning stars sang together and all the angels shouted for joy? Have you ever given orders to the morning, or shown the dawn its place, that it might take the earth by the edges and shake the wicked out of it?

How do you like it when you get “put in your place?”  It’s not real pleasant, is it?  Job discovered what it was like when God started asking him questions that were impossible for Job to answer.  Job’s response was the right one, once he recovered from his shock: I put my hand over my mouth!

God put Job in his place with his questions.  That is as it should be…whenever God asks us questions, they are designed to remind us who and what we are, and to make us realize that we are not God.  We can’t do any of the things that God asked Job, and yet God does them day in and day out without even breaking a sweat.  No, we are not God and we need to be put in our place.

But, at the same time, it is important that we put God in his right place, too.  I like this bit of historical trivia that shows that Martin Luther grasped this perfectly: Philipp Melanchthon was a German theologian who lived as a contemporary of Martin Luther.  One day as the two of them spoke, Melanchthon said to Luther, “Today, you and I shall discuss the governance of the universe.”  Luther looked at Melanchthon and said, “No.  Today, you and I shall go fishing and leave the governance of the universe to God.” 

PRAYER:  Thank You, Father, that You’ve shown us the truth about ourselves, and revealed your greatness and glory to us.  Today, may we trust all things into Your infinitely capable hands!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

COPYRIGHT 2018 by Galen C. Dalrymple. All rights reserved.