DayBreaks for 5/17/18 – How Do You Smell?

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DayBreaks for 5/17/18: How Do You Smell?

From the DayBreaks archive, May 2008:

When we were touring Kennedy Space Center, we went to the International Space Station assembly facility.  Since most of the station is now in orbit and complete, there wasn’t much going on, but they were preparing a supply module that would be carried up to the station on a coming shuttle flight.  The cylindrical modules are 15 feet in width (the cargo bay of the shuttle is 16 feet wide), and this particular module would be carrying up stuff that the crew aboard the shuttle needed. 

The guide that was at that station told us an interesting story.  He informed us that the air on board the space station is relatively stale.  When a new cargo module arrives, those aboard the space station flock to the airlock where the new module is attached to get a whiff of the fresh air that’s contained inside the module. As the lock is opened, they all breathe in deeply…and they all comment how the air “smells like Florida.”  After hearing that, the ground crew started including some fresh oranges, lemons, etc., to make it smell even better for the astronauts who are missing the fresh air.

Once the module has been emptied, it is then filled up…with dirty clothes.  There is no facility on the station for washing clothing, so the empty module becomes like a combination laundry hamper and trash can.  The shuttle then ferries it back to earth. 

When the ground crew gets the module offloaded from the shuttle, no one scurries to be there when it is opened because…well, it stinks. 

This made me think about the passage which talks about how we smell: 2 Cor. 2:14-16 (NLT) – But thanks be to God, who made us his captives and leads us along in Christ’s triumphal procession. Now wherever we go he uses us to tell others about the Lord and to spread the Good News like a sweet perfume.  Our lives are a fragrance presented by Christ to God. But this fragrance is perceived differently by those being saved and by those perishing. To those who are perishing we are a fearful smell of death and doom. But to those who are being saved we are a life-giving perfume. And who is adequate for such a task as this?

There’s something about Christians and Christianity that smells.  Interestingly, and in contradiction to what one might expect, to God we are a fragrance.  God loves our smell!  But those who are earthbound and not heaven-destined find the fragrance quite off-putting.  It’s not because we present two different fragrances – Christians carry the sweet perfume of the Good News either way.  Our job is not to go around trying to stink to people, but our first obligation is to God, to offer our lives as living sacrifices that are well-pleasing to Him. Others will make of it what they will.

PRAYER: Lord, let us carry the sweet perfume of heaven to all.  May we live in such a way that you are happy and pleased with us, that we delight you.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

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DayBreaks for 5/16/18 – Fuel for the Journey

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DayBreaks for 5/16/18: Fuel for the Journey

From the DayBreaks archive, May 2008

On Tuesday, May 6, we visited Kennedy Space Center at Cape Canaveral in Florida.  I was there once before a number of years back, but I didn’t get my fill of it and I wanted to take my wife there ever since (well, OK, maybe I just wanted to go back!). 

My favorite part of the tour is the Apollo/Saturn V center.  I grew up with stars in my eyes, stories of astronauts, Mercury, Gemini, Apollo – and of course, the excitement of living through the first lunar landing and all the subsequent landings.  I have always wanted to go to the moon.  I don’t think that I’ll ever get the chance.  And so, I vicariously experience it through the memories of the Apollo space program. 

Inside the Apollo/Saturn V visitor center is a Saturn V rocket, lying on its side and supported by huge iron support brackets.  It is a beast of a rocket – to this day, the largest ever assembled and the most powerful ever built.  It is 363 feet in length (longer than a football field, including both end zones).  The first stage held 5 huge engines that generated 7.5 million pounds of thrust.  In just the two minutes that the engines on the first stage were burning, they consumed 545,000 gallons of fuel.  Imagine having to pay for that at today’s gas prices (not to mention that it was a special mixture of fuel that would have been even more expensive.)  Why so much fuel, why so much power?  Because the fully loaded rocket weighed in at something like 6.3 million pounds, and it takes a lot of fuel to get something that big and heavy into space. 

It takes a lot to get us to heaven.  It’s not something that we can make, manufacture or buy.  It doesn’t take huge refineries, massive tanks or great, roaring engines.  What it does take is the blood of the Son of God…and as the old song goes, “There’s power in the blood.” 

We also need the fuel provided by the bread of life…the very same Jesus who gave his life for us and called us into his glory. 

One more thing: when the fuel on the Saturn V ran out, it was gone…kaput.  And it did run out.  But the power supplied by the Son is more than sufficient and will never be used up!

Revelation 7:14 (KJV) – And I said unto him, Sir, thou knowest. And he said to me, These are they which came out of great tribulation, and have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.

PRAYER: Jesus, thank you for the power that is in your blood to cleanse us and the power of your Spirit to keep us, and that your power never changes but is always constant.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 5/07/18 – Drowning Rats and Hope

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DayBreaks for 5/07/18: Drowning Rats and Hope

From the DayBreaks archive, May 2008:     

I don’t have to tell you that life can get pretty hard.  If you are more than 24 hours old, you’ve probably discovered that fact for yourself (and come to think of it, getting into this world isn’t so easy, either)!  It is difficult, at times, to hold onto hope.  But it is very important that we do so!  Think about this example from Today In the Word, May 1990: “A number of years ago researchers performed an experiment to see the effect hope has on those undergoing hardship. Two sets of laboratory rats were placed in separate tubs of water. The researchers left one set in the water and found that within an hour they had all drowned. The other rats were periodically lifted out of the water and then returned. When that happened, the second set of rats swam for over 24 hours. Why? Not because they were given a rest, but because they suddenly had hope!  Those animals somehow hoped that if they could stay afloat just a little longer, someone would reach down and rescue them.”

It is sometimes easier to hope than others.  But as G. K. Chesterton put it: “Hope means hoping when things are hopeless, or it is no virtue at all…As long as matters are really hopeful, hope is mere flattery or platitude; it is only when everything is hopeless that hope begins to be a strength.”  I think he makes a good point.  If we were the rats in the tank in the experiment and could see a way to get ourselves out of the tank, then what would we be relying on?  Ourselves.  And then it isn’t hope, is it? 

Of course, we aren’t rats in a tank.  We are of much greater value.  We weren’t put here by some crazed scientist for the purposes of experimentation.  God isn’t performing laboratory experiments on us.  We need to remember that it was our sin that put us in the tank – not some all-powerful cosmic scientist to watch creatures struggle to see what they would do!  We alone are responsible for the fact that we are drowning.  God alone is responsible for the fact that there is a way out of the tank.  God has spent thousands of years rescuing us from the cesspool of our sin and shame and He is still about the business of rescuing broken and drowning people today. 

Romans 5:5-6 reminds us: And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us.  You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. You see, God didn’t just build a ramp out of the tank, He got in the tank with us and has lifted us out. 

When you despair of ever seeing or feeling the joy of a sunrise again, look around you.  You will see the Son of God at your side.  He will not fail you.  He will not let you down.  You may have to reach the point where the situation is “hopeless” before you turn to Him so you can learn what hope really is. 

We all need to remember that “hopeless” is a human term – it doesn’t exist in God’s dictionary.

PRAYER: Thank you that you not only didn’t leave us hopeless, but gave us the greatest reason for hope ever! In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 5/03/18 – Why He Came – in His Own Words

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DayBreaks for 5/03/18: Why He Came – in His Own Words

From the DayBreaks archive, May 2008:     

There are so many misconceptions about Jesus.  Those who are primarily interested in the social gospel are quick to talk about slavery, injustice, abuse and the setting right of things gone wrong in this world.  Those who are heavily into politics might argue that Jesus was a man of peace, and that he would have been a politician today, striving to bring peace to a world that seems fixated on killing.  Back in the day of the hippies, they would have probably said that “Jesus came to teach us the way of love.”

There’s truth in all those things, so don’t get me wrong.  But I think Jesus put it best, and first, when he first taught in the synagogue he quoted Isaiah 61:1 – The Spirit of the Sovereign LORD is on me, because the LORD has anointed me to preach good news to the poor.  He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners. 

In Waking the Dead, John Eldredge noted: “The meaning of this quotation has been clouded by years of religious language and ceremonial draping.  What is he saying?  It has something to do with good news, with healing hearts, with setting someone free.  That much is clear from the text.  “Permit me a translation in plain language:

“God has sent me on a mission.  I have some great news for you.  God has sent me to restore and release something.  And that something is you.  I am here to give you back your heart and set you free.”

Let the words of Isaiah 61:1 come alive for you this day.  You’ll sleep better tonight because of it!

PRAYER:  Thank You, Jesus, for completing Your mission with honor and integrity – and perfection!  Thank You for coming for us!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 4/30/18 – Everyone in Hell has a Big But

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DayBreaks for 4/30/18: Every One in Hell has a Big But

From the DayBreaks archive, April 2008:     

Let’s take a closer look a favorite saying of those who know little or nothing of Scripture: “If you live a good enough life, you’ll make it to heaven.”

The following is from Greg Stier:

“After preaching in countless churches across the nation, I’m convinced that these fighting words are the biggest lie that is still being bought by millions of professing Christians. There is a mentality that “sure Jesus died for me, BUT…” As a matter of fact, I always say that “everyone in hell has got a big BUT”:

“BUT you also have to live a good life.”
“BUT you also have to obey The 10 Commandments.”
“BUT you also have to live by The Golden Rule.”
“BUT you also have to turn, try, seek, surrender…”

“The way of work and the way of grace are separate ways. If you seek to earn salvation via the way of work, you have to go the whole way. Jesus laid it out pretty clearly in the Sermon on the Mount. When Jesus begins the “You have heard…but I say unto you” list of impossible standards, I’m sure that everyone listening wilted. Those present (save Jesus himself) had unjustly been angry at their fellow man and had lusted at their fellow women. And having lusted, they were busted and unable to measure up to the ultimate standard of entrance into heaven: Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect. (Matthew 5:48). 

“If our people dare approach Christianity as a religion, then the standard is impossibly high. To get into heaven, we have to be as good as God himself.

“Oops.

“That’s why the offering of salvation is the way of grace through faith and not by good deeds (Ephesians 2:8-9).  Those ways, according to Romans 11:6, cannot be mixed: And if by grace, then it is no longer by works; if it were, grace would no longer be grace.

“We need to do our best to help all of our people embrace the way of grace for the salvation of their souls. What’s interesting is that, when they do, good works will flow out of grateful hearts that long to please the Father who redeemed them through grace.”

Galen’s Thoughts: Paul got on the same bandwagon with Jesus when Paul wrote Galatians to show the foolishness of trying to please God by living the Law.  Still, I think Stier is on to a real truth: I think we’ll be surprised when we get to the judgment and we start to hear many say, “But Lord, I lived a good life,” “But Lord, I’m even a better person than some of those so-called Christians,”, “But Lord, there must be some mistake,” and “But Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or naked or in prison?”

There is only “but” that will work: “I am but a sinner, clinging to the cross of Jesus.”

PRAYER:  Father, teach us not to offer You excuses, but penitent, humble hearts.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 4/25/18 – The Surprising Proclamation

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DayBreaks for 4/25/18: The Surprising Proclamation

John 4:25-26 (NIV) – The woman said, “I know that Messiah” (called Christ) “is coming. When he comes, he will explain everything to us.”  Then Jesus declared, “I who speak to you am he.

The verses above are taken from the story of Jesus’ encounter with the woman at the well in Samaria.  It’s a fascinating story for a variety of reasons.  Jesus, a man, initiating a conversation with a woman.  It wasn’t supposed to happen that way – not in that age.  Jesus, a Jew, speaking to a Samaritan.  It wasn’t supposed to happen – Jews and Samaritans were supposed to hate one another.  Jesus was a rabbi, a very holy man – and this woman was, well, less than virtuous.  She had gone from one relationship to another, and was now living with a man to whom she wasn’t married.  No self-respecting rabbi would strike up such a conversation.

But Jesus wasn’t into self-respect, he was into love and sharing that love with anyone who needed it – and certainly, it would appear that this woman had perhaps mistaken many things for love in the past. 

The most amazing thing, however, about this story, was Jesus’ announcement that he was the Messiah.  As far as we know, this is the very first time that Jesus identified himself this blatantly.  He hadn’t made this kind of proclamation to even his disciples, so why this woman?

I believe he announced himself to this woman precisely because she was the kind of person who needed to know that the Messiah had come.  This woman probably had lost most of her hope for her life.  Her track record this far had not been stellar.  With the first relationship, she probably had hoped that “my life is set and I’m on track for happiness.”  But her heart had been broken.  Then came a succession of more men – and with each one, more heartbreak had come and a bit of hope had died as each relationship died.  Perhaps she wondered, deep in her heart, if there would be any hope for her at all.

And to this hurting, shame-filled, discouraged woman, the Messiah is revealed for the first time.  It was for women (and men) just like this one that Jesus had come.  And in revealing himself to her, hope and possibility were reborn.

Our sins burden us and crush us and destroy joy and hope.  Stop by the well and drink the Living Water that the Messiah gives and you will never thirst again.

PRAYER:  Lord, thank you for revealing yourself to sinners like us.  Renew our hope and open our eyes to what it means that the Messiah has come!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 4/19/18 – Habakkuk’s Circumstances – Deja Vu

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DayBreaks for 4/19/18: Habakkuk’s Circumstances (Déjà vu)     

I will refer you to Habakkuk 1.2-4 as a background for this DayBreaks.

Here’s the scenario: Habakkuk, a prophet in Judea, looks around himself and sees that the “righteous” (in whose number he includes himself) are surrounded by the wicked. He sees so-called justice that is really injustice. He sees iniquity. He sees destruction and violence running rampant. Strife and contention are everywhere and the law seems paralyzed. As bad as that is, what really is bothering Habakkuk is that he has been crying out to the Lord for help – and not seeing any help coming to his rescue.

This is going to get a bit sensitive here because I’m going to delve into politics. Bear with me, please. Habakkuk mixed the two – righteousness and justice. As much as some would like to totally separate the two, we can’t. Why is it wrong to steal from someone, both morally and ethically? Because it results in injustice to the person who had things taken. Justice is both a moral and political issue methinks.

And here’s where it’s gonna get touchy: there are many in America today who are feeling a lot like Habakkuk. They are right – there is much to despair over because of what they see happening (or not happening). They can’t understand why God has let some things happen and why he hasn’t come down with an iron rod and set things straight. And as a result, they cry out – but not maybe so much to God as to their friends on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and via email.

I think that Habakkuk had a far better approach to venting his frustration. Isn’t it better to cry out to God when we are despairing? We may not like the answer (or non-answer) we get from God, but it is HIS answer, so it is bound to be better than that which we get from our friends. Our dilemma is whether or not we believe his answers and ways are good or not. He is the God who raises up rulers and tears them down – not for our satisfaction, but for his immutable reasons. 

Indeed, God may yet come down with a rod of iron to fix what is wrong in this world (we know he will eventually, but he can fix things in the meantime, too, if in his infinite wisdom he knows that it is the right thing to do). There IS much injustice. There IS much violence, strife and contention. Those things need to be fixed – and they will.

But rather than crying out to everyone else around us, maybe like Habakkuk we should be crying out to God. Oh, and one more thing: maybe we need to be on our knees a whole lot more on behalf of our president, congresspersons, governors, magistrates, etc. than we have been. I wonder how often those who have railed the most against the political and moral state of affairs in our country are taking the command from Paul that we are to pray for our leaders (1 Timothy 2.2 – and bear in mind the leader Paul told people to pray for at that time as an utterly unjust, evil tyrant named Nero.) What, I wonder, would happen if Christians in the country and around the world truly started to pray for their leaders like we should? Not pray that they be smitten, but pray for their well-being, for righteousness to find a place to rule in their hearts, to seek God’s answers, to find salvation and God’s ways rather than the guidance of human advisors. Remember that prayer is offering our desires to God, but always with the attitude of “nevertheless, not my will, but thine be done.” Might God just hear from heaven and heal our land?

PRAYER: Convict us of the need to pray for all of our leaders far more than we feel the need to criticize them, Lord! In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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