DayBreaks for 6/28/17 – Held Captive

DayBreaks for 6/28/17: Held Captive

From the DayBreaks archive, 2007

Now I would like to stop the world for just one minute and ask you to think back. Think back with me to the first century. Think about those 50 years after Jesus’ death and what it must been like for Jesus’ disciples. Before the last one died their efforts had brought 500,000 men, women, and children into the ranks of the church. But what they had to suffer in order to accomplish this task is seldom discussed. We like the outcome of their discipleship but we don’t want to hear the cost of discipleship. So for the record here is the cost: History tells us…
1. John died of extreme old age exiled to the island of Patmos.
2. Judas Iscariot, after betraying his Lord, hanged himself.
3. Peter was crucified; head downward, during the persecution of Nero.
4. Andrew died on a cross at Patrae, a Grecian Colony.
5. James, the younger, son of Alphaeus, was thrown from a pinnacle of the Temple, and then beaten to death with a club.
6. Bartholomew was flayed alive in Albanapolis, Armenia.
7. James, the elder son of Zebedee, was beheaded at Jerusalem.
8. Thomas, the doubter, was run through the body with a lance at Coromandel, in the East Indies.
9. Philip was hanged against a pillar at Heropolis.
10. Thaddeus was shot to death with arrows.
11. Simon died on a cross in Persia (what we now call Iran.)
12. Matthew was first stoned and then beheaded.
What sacrifices! And I ask you why? Why did they choose to die this way? Why desert your father and mother, your wife and child, and your home? Why put up with the constant humiliation, and hunger, and persecution, and defeat town after town after town?
I’ll tell you why, because, in the words of Apostle Paul, they were held captive by the words and teachings of Jesus Christ. It is Paul’s way of saying they were slaves to Christ. But this wasn’t a begrudging slavery – they were so thankful that this master had set them free from their former captor – that they considered it a privilege and honor to be His slave.
1 Timothy 2:4-6a (MSG) – He wants not only us but everyone saved, you know, everyone to get to know the truth we’ve learned: that there’s one God and only one, and one Priest-Mediator between God and us—Jesus, who offered himself in exchange for everyone held captive by sin, to set them all free. Eventually the news is going to get out.

Romans 1:1 (MSG) I, Paul, am a devoted slave of Jesus Christ on assignment, authorized as an apostle to proclaim God’s words and acts. I write this letter to all the Christians in Rome, God’s friends.

The question that haunts me is: how do I feel about being a slave of Jesus? Does it stir my soul as it did that of the first disciples? If not, why?

PRAYER: Jesus, thank you freed us. Stir in our hearts the same passion that ignited the imaginations and actions of those you chose in the first century that we might be held captive by You and nothing else! In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 6/7/17 – The Cold Season of Life

DayBreaks for 6/07/17: The Cold Season of Life

From the DayBreaks archives, June 2007:

It may seem strange, now as the rays of the late-spring sun pour themselves willy-nilly through the window and dance on the floor to be writing about a cold season of life, or of “the winter of our discontent.”  But, ideas, like guests, sometimes come when they choose, and who can tell where and when the Spirit will move with an idea or thought or a challenge?  So, without fear of being called crazy, I write today to share some thoughts about the cold season of life, as inspired by Jamie Langston Turner, from Winter Birds, posted in Christianity Today, 5/30/07:

“I am in the cold season of life, and the words that come to mind as I rise in the morning are these: “Now, is the winter of our discontent.” I borrow them from William Faulkner, a fellow Mississippian, who lifted them from Shakespeare, who put them into the mouth of the Duke of Gloucester, also known as Richard III. Though I am hardly the villain Richard III was, I am no saint. Though I have not murdered, I have used words to maim and destroy. Though I repudiate the notion of conscience, as did Richard, I do not rest easy at night. Often when I wake in the morning, it is after few hours of troubled sleep. I cannot sleep long for fear that I will let go of living. Rather a winter of discontent than no winter at all.”

Galen’s Thoughts:

In fairness, I don’t yet think that I’m in the cold season of life.  I do find the mornings a bit more chilly than it seems they were just a year or two ago.  Can anyone say, “Circulation?”  Part of the challenge is that, in the final analysis, we never know when we are in the cold season of life.  Many are struck down in the springtime, when the flower and bloom of life should just be appearing.  Yet, little did they know, they were in the cold season of life.  Still, I must agree with the writer, that it is better to have a winter of discontent than none for a variety of reasons:

FIRST: if we are in the advanced years, we have had the blessing of a life – whether good or bad.  And how intriguing it is that even those who have lived what we might think are the most difficult and hard lives are often the most grateful.  They’ve learned that life isn’t about what you have, but about Who you know and what you’ve invested your life in that matters.  So it was that in the cold season of his life, the apostle Paul could say, “I am ready to be offered up…”. 

SECOND: memories.  There are good things to remember in looking back.  Memory was important to Israel – even the memory of the captivity and Exodus, the memories of the exile, were important because they resolved to learn from those things.  It is instructive to note that after the Exile, the Jews never again involved themselves in idolatry.  Even in the cold season of life we can look back and remember the warmer, sun-filled days that quickened our breath and heartbeat, and give thanks to the One who gave us such simple joys.

Yet, I must protest the woman’s statement about not being a saint.  Who among us saints is really a saint?  We’ve not earned the title, after all.  We have maimed and destroyed in our own ways, time and time again.  And we do not rest easy for it.  Yet if we are to accept God as God and His Word as the Truth that sets us free, believer – you are a saint.  No less than 62 times in the NT is the term applied to Christians.  Never because of our outstanding performance, but because God through Christ has made us holy and righteous.  Believe it?

PRAYER: Thank you for the days of our lives, the moments and instances, like snapshots, that live on in our memories!  May our longing vision to see you grow stronger as the days grow colder.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 6/01/17 – Run to the Rock!

Rafting on the American River (above).

DayBreaks for 6/01/17: Run to the Rock!

From the DayBreaks archive, May 2007:

Psalms 61:2 (NIV) – From the ends of the earth I call to you, I call as my heart grows faint; lead me to the rock that is higher than I.

On the 19th of this month, I had a new experience: I went white-water rafting with some other fellows from our church.  We were on the South Fork of the American River, above Sacramento.  It was a LOT of fun!  The water flow was high and rapid and it was a great time of fellowship and fun.

Before we began our white-water adventure, the guides went though a great deal of instruction in order to be sure we’d be as safe as possible.  We received directions about how to get someone back into the boat in case they fell out, about what to do with your feet if you fell out (keep them up, not down as they could catch between rocks and you’d be pulled under!), and what we were to do if the float raft slammed up against a rock. 

Now, it is rather counter-intuitive, but if you see your boat being swept into a large rock, what would your first reaction be?  Most people would instinctively move away from the side of the boat that will be struck by the rock.  They want to get as far away as possible from the edge that will soon be kissing granite!  Makes sense, doesn’t it?  But it’s the wrong thing to do.  Instead, everyone was instructed that if it happened, the thing to remember was this: run to the rock.  With all the weight on the high side of the boat, it won’t flip over, but if everyone went to the side below the rock, it would surely tip and everyone would be overboard. 

It struck us that we should “run to the rock” because it has obvious spiritual parallels.  Jesus, we are told, is the Rock.  He is the one to whom we should run for safety.  It may not be intuitive, in fact, we may be tempted to run to things we can see, taste, hear, smell or touch instead of a God Who is a Spirit.  But in times of trouble, if we want our little boat to stay afloat and not get dumped out into the swirling waters of life, remember: “Run to the Rock!”

PRAYER: Lord, help us to remember that there is no place that is safer than to be as close to You as possible.  Give us the wisdom, and the spiritual insight, to run to the rock!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 5/25/17 – The Loudest Noise Ever

DayBreaks for 5/25/17: The Loudest Noise Ever

Yesterday I wrote about Jesus’ triumphant cry from the cross, “It is finished!” Today I want to think about sound again, but in a bit different vein.

I love trivia and interesting facts. I even post tidbits of information on my photography blog. So, when I was recently musing about the loudest sound ever recorded, I “googled” it. Here are one item that many claim is the loudest noise ever on earth:

On August 27, 1883, the earth made a noise unlike anything since. On that date, on the island of Krakatoa, a volcano erupted violently. It threw rock and ash 17 miles into the atmosphere (reported by a geologist who witnessed the eruption), created a tsunami 100 feet high, and the noise was heard audibly over a mass equivalent to 1/13th of the entire world. Another way to put it is this: it was heard by people 3000 miles away! A British ship captain who was 40 miles from the volcano when it blew reported that the noise was so loud that over half of his crew had their eardrums ruptured by the volume of the sound. He wrote, “My last thoughts are with my dear wife. I am convinced that the Day of Judgment has come.” No wonder he felt that way – the sound is believed to have been equivalent to 100,000 hydrogen bombs exploding simultaneously.

As if that wasn’t enough, there comes a point at which a loud sound no longer travels “through” air – it literally “pushes” the air ahead of it. Such sound is not measured in decibel levels (though the decibel level 100 miles from the eruption registered 172 – 85 decibels can cause hearing loss and the pain threshold is around 120 decibels), but in pressure waves. The pressure wave from the eruption circled the world four times in each direction. For the next five days after the eruption, the pressure around the world spiked every 34 hours like clockwork as the pressure waves circled the earth over and over. Each city actually experienced as many as seven spikes because the sound came from both directions. The pressure wave was so great that even the waves as far away as San Francisco grew as a result – and then subsided as each spike passed. It was so great that it became known as the “great air-wave”. (If you want to get a sense for what a small pressure wave is like, watch this – just bear in mind that this is miniscule compared to Krakatoa’s eruption – and the boat was only 2.7 miles from the volcano in the video.)

As I was listening to the song, O Praise the Name (Anastasis) from Hillsong (link here), I was struck by a couple lines that described the resurrection of Jesus thusly:

Then on the third at break of dawn
The Son of heaven rose again
O trampled death where is your sting?
The angels roar for Christ the King
.

It dawned on me that though the loudest noise ever recorded on earth may have been Krakatoa, the loudest noise in the universe must surely have been the roar the angels made when they realized that Christ had arisen! What a contrast it must have been to the stunned silence when they witnessed God’s Son die! Is it any wonder that they roared when he came back to life with the defeat of death firmly in his grasp?

I doubt that they’ve stopped roaring yet.

PRAYER: Father, how I long to hear the roar of praise for Jesus pouring from the mouths of the angels, and to join my own praise to that sound that will swell and grow forever and ever! In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2017 by Galen Dalrymple.

 

DayBreaks for 5/19/17 – The Truth About Dead People

DayBreaks for 5/19/17: The Truth About Dead People

Colossians 2:13 (NLT) – You were dead because of your sins and because your sinful nature was not yet cut away. Then God made you alive with Christ, for he forgave all our sins.

No matter how many sermons you might hear, no matter how many books about God’s grace that you might have read or may read in the future, we keep coming back to a concept that we have to be “good” in order to get into heaven.

Every time we fall into our “sin trap” – that sin that plagues you year after year – we begin to despair and think that surely, we’ve exhausted the grace of God and benefits of Christ’s blood. I understand that way of thinking perhaps better than most because I was raised thinking that if you committed a sin and didn’t get a chance to ask for forgiveness before you were struck by lightning and killed, then you probably wouldn’t go to heaven. Guilt was huge in my early years of faith.

I invite you, though, to look at the passage today. Read it carefully. Let it sink in. See if you really grasp what it is saying.

Here’s the key: we all have read how we were dead in our sins. That’s not hard for any person of faith to understand. But think about the implications of that statement. Here’s the question: how much can a dead person do? Uh, nothing, right? We could do nothing to make ourselves “alive”…it was an act of God that made us alive with Christ because he forgave not some, but ALL our sins. Past, present, future. Period.

Dead people can do nothing. We are TOTALLY dependent on God for our “life” – for our salvation. Isn’t it great to know that it isn’t dependent on us and how “good” we are!

But can we trust Him? If we can’t trust this Father, who can we trust? And remember Jesus statement that he will not lose even a single one that the Father has given him (made alive) (John 18:9) and that no one can snatch people out of the Father’s hand – not even me.

PRAYER: Thank you for these great assurances, and for the power of Your Word to hold us firm and safe. Thank you for making us alive in Christ! In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2017 by Galen Dalrymple.

 

DayBreaks for 4/28/17 – Why Christ HAD To Rise

DayBreaks for 4/28/17: Why Christ HAD to Rise

Note: Galen is traveling this week.

From the DayBreaks archive, April 2007:

Easter is over, but Christ is still risen!  It seems that many forget in the hustle of everyday life that such an earth-shattering event really did take place.  Maybe saying it was earth-shattering is a bit strong – many alive on the face of the earth at the time never heard about it in their lifetimes – they just didn’t have that opportunity.  And being such scientifically minded moderns as we are, we find it a bit hard to believe that something that happened so long ago in the days of yore when science was, well, rather unscientific, we may be a bit skeptical about the resurrection. 

In John 20, it says (talking about the disciples after Jesus resurrection and before Jesus had appeared to them), They did not yet understand the Scriptures that Jesus had to rise from the dead.  I can hardly blame them, even though Jesus had told them numerous times, in very plain language, that he would rise from the dead on the third day. 

But this year, as I read that passage, I was struck by the simple word “had”.  It is a significant word – the writer could have said that they didn’t understand that Jesus would rise from the dead, but that’s not what he said.  John said Jesus “had” to rise from the dead.  And that got me thinking.  Why did Jesus have to rise?  Several reasons, I think:

FIRST: If Jesus didn’t rise from the dead, it would mean that there was something (death) in the universe that is more powerful than God, which is impossible given the definition of God and His omnipotence.  If Jesus (God with us) could not raise himself from the dead, he couldn’t possibly have been God.  But if he could raise himself from the tomb, then surely He must be God!

SECOND: Life has, in spite of appearances, always been stronger than death.  Consider how it works with a grain of wheat: one grain of wheat falls to the ground and dies, but that one grain of wheat gives life eventually to thousands of grains of wheat in subsequent generations.  Think of the great people of the past and what comes to mind?  Is it not their life, and not their death?  We speak of such people as “living on” in their deeds, words, thoughts.  And, who hasn’t seen a seed that has sprouted and grown through inches of asphalt, cement or even rock?  Why?  Because life is stronger than death, and Jesus was “the Way, the Truth, and the LIFE.”

FINALLY: I preach and teach about the cross a great deal.  I make no apologies for that.  But recently I have wondered if I’ve emphasize that too much and underemphasized the resurrection of Christ.  After all, the apostles went everywhere teaching and preaching the resurrection.  Many people were crucified during the time of Christ – but what made him unique was the resurrection!  What good would it have been if Jesus had lived a sinless life and if God had accepted Jesus’ sacrificial death for us, but Jesus hadn’t risen?  Paul is clear in Corinthians: if Christ isn’t risen, then there is and will be no resurrection for anyone.  Here’s the point: if Jesus perfect life ended with the grave, our sins could have been forgiven, but so what?  If he didn’t rise, we won’t rise.  We’d lie in the grave and become dust and remain dust – eternally.  And those are some of the key reasons Jesus had to rise from the dead.

Let me share the brilliant observation by theologian Jaroslav Pelikan: “If Christ is risen from the dead, then nothing else matters; if Christ is not risen from the dead, then nothing else matters.”  You see, it all depends on Christ and his resurrection.

PRAYER: I thank You, Father, for the little word “had” – that Jesus “had” to rise from the dead.  Thank You that He did rise, and that because he has risen, nothing else in this universe really matters.  The reality of His resurrection is the dominant fact of all the universe.  May we live as if we truly believe He is risen from the dead!.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2017 by Galen Dalrymple.

DayBreaks for 4/27/17 – The Real Danger

DayBreaks for 4/27/17 – The Real Danger

Note: Galen is traveling this week.

From the DayBreaks archive, April 2007:

As a child, I was fascinated by the story of Shadrach, Meshech and Abednego.  My mind would swim with images and imaginings of what it looked like, of the sounds of the roaring furnace, of the great king Nebuchadnezzar in all his finery as the music blared and the masses bowed down.  That is, they bowed down with the exception of three people: the Hebrew boys otherwise known as Azariah, Mishael and Hananiah. 

I always thought that this was a story about idolatry.  I’d always thought that the temptation they faced was to worship the golden idol of the Babylonian king.  After all, that’s how I remember the story from the flannel graphs that my Sunday school teacher used to help us “see” the stories.  It is only recently that I believe God opened my eyes to a more significant truth.  The story is about idolatry, all right, but the idol that the young men were being tempted to worship wasn’t really the 90-foot tall golden sculpture. 

No, the real test was one about worship.  What would be worshipped?  They’d been taught as Jewish children that “the Lord our God is One” and that “No one is like the Lord our God.”  They knew full well that He was the only One who was worthy of worship.  The idol that these boys were confronted with – and which they were tempted to bow down and worship – was themselves, their earthly lives.  If they worshipped the idol, they’d save their lives – if they didn’t, they might lose their lives.

Would these three young men be wise enough to recognize which was the greater danger: to die in a fiery furnace, or to worship and esteem something else (even if it is your physical life) higher than the worship of God is idolatry?

We are our own greatest idol.  We need to cast aside the idol of self that leads us to hoard money, love, compassion, wisdom, possessions, pleasures.  Even if it comes to laying down our lives in order to worship God, doesn’t God have a right to ask that of us?  Of course He does. 

Do you recognize your own self-worship and idolatry?  Every time we choose our way, our dreams, our own joys rather than His, we are bowing down to the idol of self-worship.

PRAYER:  Father, help us to recognize our idolatry and our self worship.  Give us the wisdom to be able to discern the greatest danger – the danger of not giving you the worship and glory that you alone deserve.  Tear down our idols of self-interest that we may be true worshippers!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2017 by Galen Dalrymple.