DayBreaks for 9/26/17 – The Reality of Now

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DayBreaks for 9/26/18The Reality of Now       

From the DayBreaks archive, September 2008:

John 17:3: Now this is eternal life: that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent.

Lk. 17:20-21: The kingdom of God does not come with your careful observation nor will people say, ‘Here it is,’ or ‘There it is,’ because the kingdom of God is within you.

If you are like most of us, we think of heaven as being “out there” somewhere in the future.  The place of heaven isn’t so much of a topic for thought as is the time when we shall arrive there.  We can easily trust that heaven will not only meet, but infinitely surpass our wildest imaginings.  And perhaps that’s why, when life caves in, we long and hunger for it to come soon.  I think such things are only normal and natural.

But God has a way of not operating in normal or “natural” ways.  And the things that the inspired writers of Scripture captured for us deserve more attention.  Jesus, in his own words, says that eternal life is “that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent.”  Isn’t that interesting?  Heaven is not a particularly a place (although there is such a place), but what makes heaven heavenly is the knowing of God and Jesus which we will experience.  And, by the way, it is available, and present, now…not just out there in the future.

The Luke passage is even more stunning: it won’t be something we see coming, this kingdom of God, but it is within us.  A kingdom is the place where a king rules, where he lives.  We might think of the kingdom of God as being heaven (and that’s not incorrect) but the fact is that God’s rule is everywhere…and His Presence is, believe it or not, within us.  That means that His kingdom is also within us…now. 

As Mark Buchanan said in Things Unseen: “There is something about heaven that we must grasp, because if we don’t, we’ll miss everything else.  We’ll read the music but never sing, study the choreography but never dance.  It’s this: heaven starts now.

“Eternity is not primarily a measure of time – chronological time stretched to infinity.  It is not first and foremost a place.  Eternity is primarily a quality of relationship.  It is first and foremost a presence; to know God and Jesus Christ.

Perhaps the one claim Christianity makes that is the most offensive to the world and presents the greatest stumbling block is that there is only one why to God…and that way is belief in Jesus (not in Mohammed, Buddha, or any other person).  All a Christian has to do is say, “Christianity, Jesus Christ, is the only way to God,” and you’ll instantly be branded as a closed-minded, bigoted person.  But when you understand that eternal life is to know Jesus (as Jesus said in John 17), it makes perfect sense.  If eternal life is to know him, if you don’t know him – there cannot be eternal life.  Heaven is intimate knowledge, not of something, but of Someone – the only true God and Jesus Christ, the one He sent.

PRAYER: Almighty Lord, we long to know you better, to experience in greater measure and purity the eternal life that only comes from knowing You.  Keep us from the pride in our hearts and minds that might tell us that we already know you, guard us so that we don’t stop seeking to learn to know you better each passing day.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

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DayBreaks for 9/03/18 – The Missing Son

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DayBreaks for 9/03/18: The Missing Son

Matthew 21:28-32 (CSBBible) – What do you think? A man had two sons. He went to the first and said, ‘My son, go work in the vineyard today.’  He answered, ‘I don’t want to,’ but later he changed his mind and went. Then the man went to the other and said the same thing. ‘I will, sir,’ he answered, but he didn’t go. Which of the two did his father’s will?” They said, “The first.” Jesus said to them, “Truly I tell you, tax collectors and prostitutes are entering the kingdom of God before you.
For John came to you in the way of righteousness, and you didn’t believe him. Tax collectors and prostitutes did believe him; but you, when you saw it, didn’t even change your minds then and believe him.

If this passage doesn’t trouble you, you’ve missed the point. If it is just another parable to you, you’ve missed the application.

What we see here are two sons. One is outwardly rebellious, much like the prodigal son in the parable by the same name. He shows no respect for his father, is arrogant and deceitful. He flatly refuses to his father’s face to go work in the vineyard.

The second son appears respectful and says he’ll go – but it was a lie – he never gets to the vineyard to work for the father.

In context, the first son was like the tax collectors and prostitutes – they initially may refuse the invitation to work for the Lord, but when they have a change of heart they do his bidding. The second son was representative of the religious leaders (think pastors and elders of our day) who say all the right things but then don’t do them.

Why is this so disturbing? Because my guess is that we all see ourselves as having said yes to Jesus’ calling, but have we really done what we say and sing we’ll do?  “All to Jesus I surrender..”  “Lord, you are my everything, the Lord of my life!”…but then is he really? What about when saying yes to him causes us to lose the favor and respect of others? What about when saying yes will cost us financially? What about when saying yes will cost you time and energy you feel you cannot spare? How many of  us sit in services, sing the songs and pat ourselves on the back thinking our relationship with the Father is so wonderful, but when called on to demonstrate in action and word that He truly is “everything to me”, pull back? So one huge question is: which son/daughter am I REALLY?

But there is a missing son here, too. The son who says yes and then goes immediately into the father’s vineyard and gets to work no matter what it costs. If you look high and low and try to find this son between the lines, but he’s not there. But he is. That son was the one who was telling the story. He is the son who, when the Father asked him to go work in his vineyard (the world) said, “Yes!” and immediately went regardless of the cost. That is the son/daughter we want to be like who says, “Here I am, father, send me!” 

PRAYER: Help us be true sons and daughters who say yes and then go into the world just as the One who told this story long ago. In Jesus’ name, Amen

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

DayBreaks for 8/21/18 – Against All the World

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DayBreaks for 8/21/18: Against All the World

From the DayBreaks archive, August 2008:

A man by the name of Athanasius, an early bishop of Alexandria, strongly opposed the heretical teachings of Arius, who had declared that Christ was not the eternal Son of God, but a subordinate being. After suffering 5 exiles, Athanasius was finally brought before the Roman emperor Theodosius, who demanded that Athanasius stop his outspoken opposition to Arius’ teachings. The emperor reproved him and asked, “Do you not realize that all the world is against you?” Athanasius is said to have quickly responded, “Then I am against all the world.”

Most of you who read DayBreaks work in the secular world (or are students or home-makers). It’s difficult working in the world and trying to be a Christian. I know what it’s like – I worked in the secular workplace for years. I’ve seen how companies frown on employees exercising their right to express their faith. I’ve seen how something as innocent as a group of employees gathering together for breakfast before Christmas to sing Christmas carols can lead to protests from employees who are of other faiths. Those kind of things make it hard to express your faith in ways that are noticeable. So, we feel all alone – surrounded by disinterested (at best) co-workers or overtly hostile ones.

I imagine Peter felt that way when he denied the Lord. Where were the remainder of the apostles? Nowhere to be seen – but that didn’t mean they didn’t exist. They just didn’t “stick” together – they scattered and their faith was individually tested. I’d be willing to bet that you probably aren’t all alone – there are probably other believers who may be feeling just as isolated as you. (Remember how Elijah thought he was all alone, too, after fighting with the prophets of Baal? God reassured him that there were others who hadn’t bowed down to Baal.) More often than not, it is our fear of letting our light shine that keeps us feeling alone. And it is much easier to stand strong if we stand together instead of scattering like the apostles did at the crucifixion.

The need to take a stand is crucial. If we can’t do it now, what will happen when the day comes that you are truly alone? How will you fare then? Would you have the courage of Athanasius? Would I? Until then, find a brother or sister and start a workplace bible study at your lunch break once a week. You might find other brothers and sisters you didn’t know you had, and who knows, you might even have the privilege of leading a few others to Christ!

PRAYER: Father, give us the courage that makes us able to stand against “all the world”, whether it is before Presidents, kings or emperors.  As Your body in this world, may we draw strength from one another and stand strong for You and truth!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 8/2/18 – For the Love off the World

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DayBreaks for 8/02/18: For the Love of the World

From the DayBreaks archive, August 2008:

Can I tell you something?  In many ways, I love this world.  What do I mean?  I don’t mean that I love the “world” in the sense of fallen behaviors, sin, diseases, disasters and the like.  I am sick and tired of such things. So please understand that when I say that I love the world, I mean that I’m fascinated by the beauty of creation: the starry canopy above, the roaring power of the ocean, the sheer majesty of mountains, the gurgling of the brook, the touch of the wind.  There are so many places I’d like to see: the pyramids (this has been a life-long dream that may or may not ever come true), the African wildlife, the grandeur of Alaska and the Himalayas.  I’d love to watch kangaroos hopping around in Australia, to see the fjords of Sweden and Norway, to watch the cold waters of the North Sea crash against the coastline of Scotland.  I’d love to visit Machu Piccu in Peru and see the part of New Zealand where Lord of the Rings was filmed.  I would like to see the Great Wall – and I’d like to see Antarctica up close and personal.  Will I ever see all those places?  I’m sure I won’t – and in fact, I’m fairly resigned to not seeing very many, if any, of them at all. 

I love the world.  It is my Father’s world, after all.  He made it – and may I say, He did a pretty spectacular job of it. 

Why do we love this world so much?  As was true of so many things, I think C. S. Lewis was right on top of it when he wrote at the end of the Chronicles of Narnia: It was the Unicorn who summed up what everyone was feeling.  He stamped his right fore-hoof on the ground and neighed, and then cried: ‘I have come home at last!  This is my real country!  I belong here.  This is the land I have been looking for all my life, though I never knew it till now.  The reason why we loved the old Narnia is that it sometimes looked a little like this.

There is it: …the old Narnia…sometimes looked a little like this.  The very finest things and places in this world enchant us so because they remind us of our real home…the real Narnia, where Aslan/Christ lives and rules and where sin has not touched even the tiniest blade of grass – nor will it ever do so.  My love of the things I’ve listed above is a reassurance to me that I will love what is in the Heavenly Kingdom that is still ahead of me. 

Can’t you hear the siren call in your soul to such places?  Let that pull you forward, out of the muck and mire of this world and lead us to be heavenly-minded children of the Great King.

2 Peter 3:13 (NASB) – But according to His promise we are looking for new heavens and a new earth, in which righteousness dwells.

PRAYER:  Thank you, mighty God, for giving us a creation filled with such delights!  Thank you for the echoes of eternity you have placed in our hearts that call us home to you!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 7/12/18 – Out of the Kingdom of Darkness

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DayBreaks for 7/12/18: Out of the Kingdom of Darkness

The world watched with baited breath as a small army of divers and rescue personnel descended into a treacherous and deadly cave in an effort to rescue the “Wild Boars” – a soccer team and their coach, who had become trapped when monsoon rains flooded parts of the cave system. For a period approaching 10-12 days, the boys and their coach were in the cave with very little food. They drank water that dripped from the cave ceiling. And they were in darkness…total, utter darkness. I read that one of the boys in particular was terrified of darkness but he went with his teammates in an effort to overcome his fear. 

Fortunately, seemingly miraculously, all twelve boys and their coach made it out alive thanks to the sacrifices of their rescuers. Tragically, on Thai navy SEAL diver died during the effort to rescue these boys.

Colossians 1:13 (ESV) – He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son…

If you want to know what the kingdom of darkness looks like, just ask those boys. They know what darkness means. You can’t see. It is a place of fear. It is a place of want. It is uncomfortable and threatening. You long for light. It gnaws at you and causes you to give up hope and despair of rescue.

If you want to know what gratitude feels like, just ask those boys. Can you begin to imagine how their hearts leaped when the British divers with a headlight on their foreheads first popped up in the darkness and found the boys? Can you imagine how hope must have been reborn in that instant that they first saw light again? Can you try to imagine how each boy felt when at long last they exited the mouth of the cave that had held them captive and threatened them with certain death unless a miracle happened?

I don’t think most of us have a clue as to how dark was the kingdom that held us in its clutches. We don’t often see it as darkness because it is a darkness of the spirit brought about by the blackness of sin. The enemy of our souls makes it appear as light – he’s such a good liar – and we fall for it over and over again. For a sense of what it was like inside the caves, see this (and that was the easy part – try imagining even that without flashlights in passages as small as 15 inches wide!)

But miraculously, someone came searching for us, found us, and led us out of that inky black place into a kingdom diametrically opposite to that which held us. He is the Light, and in Him is no darkness at all.

But just as with the twelve boys and their coach, someone gave their life to rescue us. Unlike that navy SEAL diver, though, the one who gave his life for us came back to life and now guides us through the darkness of the former kingdom to the light. He’s been through that blackness of death that would kill us and been victorious over it so that he knows the way out of the darkness. We need not fear. He will not fail us!  

We should be terrified of the darkness that surrounds us for when it is seen clearly it is terrifying. But we should never doubt our rescue or our Rescuer. 

And one more thing: our Rescuer has turned the tables on darkness. While it was dangerous for us as we were trapped there, now that we have been delivered not only do we no longer need to fear the darkness itself, but he has made us dangerous to the kingdom of darkness because now we have experienced the way out and can help others find the Light. 

It’s a dark, dark world. Let’s be brighter. 

PRAYER: Jesus, all glory to you for descending into the darkness, experiencing it, for your victory over it, so that you could lead us into your kingdom of Light and Life. May we never take the Light for granted! In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 6/15/18 – The Lifestyle of a Tourist

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DayBreaks for 6/15/18: The Lifestyle of a Tourist

From the DayBreaks archive, June 2008:

It was only about a month ago that I was a tourist.  My wife and I were on vacation in Florida, at the world’s number one vacation city: Orlando.  We lived in Florida many years ago, but I was stunned at how much Orlando had changed.  The air was still hot and humid, but everything else had changed.  The orange groves that used to blossom and smell so sweet were nowhere to be seen.  But there I was, in my shorts and touristy-looking shirts.  I’m sure that wherever we went, we were quickly spotted as tourists. 

Tourists live a different lifestyle than residents.  Tourists don’t have to get up and go to work in the mornings.  Tourists don’t have to cook, mow the grass, wash the car or water the lawn.  When you’re a tourist, someone does all that for you.  And that’s not bad.

But what is sad is when Christians start to live all their lives as if they are tourists.  By that I don’t mean living as sojourners in a strange land – for we are to live like that!  What is bad about being a Christian living as if you’re a tourist is that tourists are often living on a tight schedule – too many things planned to see and do and not enough time to really enjoy any of it.  And so tourists want shortcuts – shortcuts through the lines at DisneyWorld, shortcuts through security at the airport, shortcuts to getting your luggage and to hit the road for adventure. 

Christians live like tourists when we want shortcuts through the life that God has designed and given to us.  We want instant sermons, shorter worship.  People seem to want a list of things they can do that will earn them instant credit at the gates of heaven.  People, Christians – don’t want to take the longer way and learn things as they go.  We are far too impatient for results and don’t focus nearly enough on the process and what it is meant to teach us.  It is interesting that, of all people, Friedrich Nietzsche (who was certainly no friend of Christ or Christianity) saw this so clearly: “The essential thing ‘in heaven and earth’ is…that there should be long obedience in the same direction; there thereby results, and has always resulted in the long run, something which has made life worth living.”  And the world tries to crush that “long obedience in the same direction” out of us, leading us to despair and give up.

Yes, we are like nomads in this world.  But we are not to be tourists.  We are residents here.  We are to engage in the sometimes long and painful processes that shape us, and which in turn, shape the world.  God isn’t looking for heavenly tourists – he wants folks who are coming to the kingdom to stay! 

PRAYER: Jesus, you persevered so much in this world and have given us an illustration of what it means to live as a stranger in a foreign place, yet remain fully engaged with life.  Help us to be patient – to see the blessing in the process and not just in the ending.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 4/24/18 – They’ve Never Been There

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DayBreaks for 4/24/18: They’ve Never Been There   

The story is told of the explorer who some years ago had just returned to his country from the Amazon. The people at home were eager to learn all about the vast and mighty river and the country surrounding it. How he wondered, could he ever describe it to them – how could he ever put into words the feelings that flooded into his heart when he saw the exotic flowers and heard the night sounds of the jungle. How could he communicate to them the smells the filled the air and the sense of danger and excitement that would come whenever he and his fellows explorers encountered strange animals or paddled through treacherous rapids?

So the explorer did what all good explorers do – he said to the people, “go and find out for yourselves what it is like”, and to help them he drew a map of the river pointing out the various features of its course and describing some of the dangers and some of the routes that could be used to avoid those dangers.

The people took the map and they framed and hung it on the wall of the local science museum so that everyone could look at it. Some made copies of it. After a period of time many of those who made copies for themselves considered themselves experts on the river – and indeed they knew its every turn and bend, they knew how broad it was and how deep, where the rapids where and where the falls. They knew the river and they instructed others in what it was like whenever those people indicated an interest in it.

I think that many people today are in the same situation. We know the scriptures but we do not understand them. And we do not understand them because we have not been there. We must not simply look at the scriptures and their meaning, we must go there. We must experience what it means to repent of our sins and allow God to forgive us. Would you this morning take the map down from the wall and go to the river with me. See what is there. Allow Christ to open your mind, to breathe his Holy Spirit upon you, and make you a disciple from the heart.

PRAYER: Let us drink deeply from the sweet well of your word and Spirit that we may know you from experience and not just from printed page! In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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