DayBreaks for 10/15/18 – Pick and Choose Morality

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DayBreaks for 10/15/18: Pick and Choose Morality

From the DayBreaks archive, 1998:

James 3:11-12: Can both fresh water and salt water flow from the same spring? My brothers, can a fig tree bear olives, or a grapevine bear figs? Neither can a salt spring produce fresh water.

Our country is suffering a real trauma. For months, accusations against our president were on the front pages, along with denials from the president himself. As recent events have sadly shown, they weren’t just accusations or rumors – they were true (by the president’s own admission). It is sad and heartbreaking. We need to pray for the president just as we would for anyone who has been overtaken by sin – pray for true repentance so forgiveness can be given. But I don’t really want to focus on the president or the political issue per se. In J. Budziszewski’s article in the August 22 issue of WORLD magazine, he was discussing the president’s situation and the fact that many Americans believed Mr. Clinton was lying, but many go on to say he was doing a good job as president. Budziszewski asked, “What could they be thinking?” and then went on: “Through diligent listening, I’ve compiled some possibilities: ‘Who am I to judge?’, ‘Everyone lies about sex’, ‘All I care about is the economy’, ‘The other politicians are just as bad’, ‘If his wife can put up with it, so can I,’, ‘I’m so disgusted I’ve stopped paying attention.’ “Have these thoughts any common thread? Yes: they all express the idea that character doesn’t count – that you can be a bad man and yet a good statesman. I doubt that many people would swallow that notion whole. But they do tend to swallow a big part of it – the belief that you can be a bad man in some ways, yet a good statesman.”

Budziszewski calls this the “Pick and Choose Delusion”. It is a disease I think we all suffer from. He says, “We believe that we can pick and choose our sins; persistent disobedience to God in one area of life leaves the others unaffected. This delusion is like thinking, ‘I’m not going to do anything about my cancer. After all, it’s only in my lymph glands!’ The truth is that we cannot pick and choose our sins. Untreated by repentance, disobedience to God spreads from organ to organ until it reaches the heart.”

We can’t pick the areas of our life that we are willing to let God clean. We can’t choose to be holy in some areas and unholy in others. In fact, it is precisely those areas that we might choose to be “unholy” that God most wants to clean. You can’t be a good Christian but a bad father or mother, or a faithful follower of God and be unfaithful to your husband or wife. Yes, we all sin and all need forgiveness, but we can’t pick and choose morality. “No man can pick and choose his sins, because sin is never satisfied. Like the fire, it spreads; like the leech, it devours.” And like the cancer, it kills. “Choose for yourselves this day who you will serve….”  

PRAYER: Lord, we are all great sinners and in desperate need of your blood and grace. Help us choose, with whole hearts and minds, to surrender to your cleansing. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

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DayBreaks for 8/12/18 – Find the Right Road

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DayBreaks for 10/12/18: Find the Right Road

From the DayBreaks archive, October 2008:

I really have mixed feelings about backpacking. I love the unmatched scenery and being able to get away from the crowds. I love the serenity of a remote mountain location. I hate the sweat and backache, though. But sometimes backpacking can be a real adventure. This last June we hiked (well, actually crawled through broken-down trees and branches) through an area where some avalanches had wiped out the trail. We weren’t sure where it was, but knew the general direction that we had to go. Needless to say, with our excellent navigational skills, we got there (guys never get lost, right?)

Joshua 3:4a tells us Joshua’s instructions to the children of Israel as to how they would know where to go when they were about to go into the Promised Land. Joshua said that they were to follow the ark of the covenant because: Then you will know which way to go, since you have never been this way before…

Taking a wrong turn in the woods or in an unknown city at night can be scary. Wasn’t getting lost one of our greatest fears as a child? One of my boys used to sleepwalk. One night while backpacking, he and his older brother were sharing a tent. Well, Tim went for a sleepwalk that night in the Little Yosemite area of Yosemite National Park, only to wake up in the darkest middle of the night and realize that he had no idea where he was or where the campground was. Fortunately, he was clever enough to begin walking in an expanding circle until he came upon the campground.

Taking the wrong road can be scary or frustrating – but it can also be fatal. What if Tim had sleepwalked right off of one of the several thousand foot cliffs in Yosemite? (When we spent the night on top of Half Dome, I tied him to me to prevent just this!!!) It can happen spiritually, too. We can take the wrong road and wind up “lost” in the wilderness of sin. A wrong decision can destroy marriages, wreak havoc with children, destroy relationships and reputations, and they can steal our hope.  And those things can start with just a single wrong decision – if it is the “right” wrong decision.

Maybe you are on the wrong road right now. What will you do about it? Charley Reese of the Orlando Sentinel, in an article about taking the right road, said: “I agree with C. S. Lewis that when you find you’ve taken the wrong road, going ahead isn’t progress. Progress is going back until you find the right road that takes you where you want to go.” Sometimes progress is made by going back to what you know is right rather than trying to cover up the wrong decision. Remember Peter’s words in John 6:68: Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.

As with the Israelites, we have “never been this way before”. If you’ve gone down the wrong road – don’t just plow ahead. Go back to the Lord and get on the right road again!

PRAYER: Lord, let us trust the navigation that is found in your Word and the guidance of the Spirit. Let us not fear going “backward” in order to go forward! In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 10/4/18 – The Problem Wasn’t Him

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DayBreaks for 10/04/18: The Problem Wasn’t Him

From the DayBreaks archive, October 2008:

Get the scene: Jesus has been crucified and buried and has raised from the dead.  He’d met with his 11 remaining disciples in the upper room and they’d seen him, and at least Thomas had also touched him.  He’d met them on the shore of the lake and fixed a fish breakfast – and restored Peter.  And now, the time has come for him to return to the Father. 

Matthew 28:16-20 (NIV) – Then the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go. When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted. Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.

You’d think that after all the time they’d spent with Jesus and all that they’d witnessed, they’d have it down by this time, but as verse 17 says, “some doubted.”  (Mercifully, the names of those “some” are not revealed to us, or we’d probably criticize them severely.)  There were still some who doubted and wondered and were fearful.  And so, Jesus has a message for them, a message about God having given him ALL authority in heaven and on earth. 

What was it that Jesus wanted them to understand?  That they needn’t fear even one single thing (or any thing) for one simple reason: He has all authority – and control.  He has healed the sick, given sight to the blind, strengthened feeble legs so that they could walk, filled the ears of the deaf with the song of birds and laughter, brought the dead to life and even rose from the dead himself.  And yet, they still doubted – they still feared.  You see, their doubting problem wasn’t caused by some failure in Jesus and how he’d prepared them – it was humanity’s problem of believing what they’d seen and heard him do and not accepting that all authority resides in him.  There is no need to fear anybody on earth or in heaven.  Why?  Because He has all authority!

Are you a doubter?  Are you fearful?  The problem isn’t his – it’s yours – and mine – for not remembering His authority! 

PRAYER: Lord, quell our fears and doubts, and help us to believe in the full authority of Your Son!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 10/03/18 – No He Didn’t!

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DayBreaks for 10/03/08: No He Didn’t!

From the DayBreaks archive, October 2008:

“The devil made me do it.”  Those words were a common phrase in comedy skits by Flip Wilson a good number of years ago.  Invariably, just after doing something that was bad, he’d utter those words in a meek way and the audience would break into laughter.  I remember laughing at it, too, at least until it got too familiar and lost its novelty.

There is even a biblical basis for the saying – sort of.  In Genesis 3:13, after Adam and Eve had sinned, Adam says (paraphrasing), “Eve made me do it.”  Eve (being a quick study and noticing that God didn’t strike Adam dead) noticed that God had turned his attention onto her, and said, “The serpent tricked me, that’s why I ate it.”  (NLT)

Nice try, Eve.  But there’s a subtle difference between what Eve and Flip Wilson had to say.  Eve said she was “tricked.”  Flip said, “The devil MADE me do it.”  In reality, Satan is a deceiver, and Eve had it right.  Yet, ever since the fall, we’ve been blaming our sinfulness on the devil making “me do it.”  Biblically speaking, if you are a Christian, Satan has no power over you.  Get this (and listen closely and pay attention): Satan cannot make you do anything.  He can’t make you lie, cheat, steal, get drunk, lust, envy or kill.  He can’t make you do one single sinful thing!  We simply can’t say, “The devil made me do it.”

So, where does the blame lie?  Square on our shoulders.  James 1:14 nails it: Temptation comes from the lure of our own evil desires.  These evil desires lead to evil actions, and evil actions lead to death.  So don’t be misled, my dear brothers and sisters. (NLT)

We make excuses to “excuse” our bad behavior – a behavior that springs from within us.  No more “The devil made me do it.”  God’s never bought that line, and He isn’t about to start buying it now.

Hebrews 2:14-15 (NIV) – Since the children have flesh and blood, he too shared in their humanity so that by his death he might destroy him who holds the power of death–that is, the devil– and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death.

PRAYER: We’ve tried so many things to avoid having to admit that we are responsible for our own sin, Lord.  Help us to stop making excuses and admit that we are sinners desperately in need of Your grace!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

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.

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 9/13/18 – The Perfect Prayer

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DayBreaks for 9/13/18: The Perfect Prayer

From the DayBreaks archive, September 2008:

From Michael Card’s From the Studio, 7/27/08

As Jesus approached Jericho, a blind man was sitting by the roadside begging.  When he heard the crowd going by, he asked what was happening.  They told him, “Jesus of Nazareth is passing by.”  He called out, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!”  Luke 18:35-37

“Years ago I wrote lyrics to a song about the Lord’s Prayer.  The title was “The Perfect Prayer”.  It is perfect simply because Jesus himself spoke it.  But there is at least one other perfect prayer in the Gospels and we find it here.  “Son of David, have mercy on me!” 

“We must see this story from a first-century perspective.  Everyone would have believed that the man was blind because he had done something to deserve it.  Obviously he had sinned, and sinners do not deserve anything.  When we understand this, we begin to see that the disciples in the front of the crowd were perfectly justified in trying to shut the man up.”

We have all sat in churches and listened to long-winded prayers.  I sometimes believe that people believe they will be heard for their many words.  And there are times when many words may be appropriate and called for.  But I can’t help but wonder sometimes if they are praying from the heart so that God hears, or if they are praying so that others will hear their “skill” at praying and be amazed and think “How righteous So-and-so must be to be able to pray like that!” 

If you’ve ever prayed out loud, you know what the temptation is like to try to impress with the prayer.  Even those who refuse to pray out loud often refuse because they think (or say) that they can’t pray “well enough.”  What does that mean?  They don’t pray well enough for whom? 

Praying well enough was never an issue with Jesus.  Praying was.  It is true, the man was a sinner, and it is true that sinners deserve nothing – at least nothing good.  What we have earned by our sinning is death (Rom. 6:23) and nothing more. 

But the amazing thing about Jesus, about the good-news gospel, is that Jesus hears prayers of desperation from hearts that are genuine.  They don’t have to be fancy, they don’t have to be long.  Whenever we pray, we might be wise to limit our prayer to those seven little words, none longer than 5 letters long: “Son of David, have mercy on me!”

And remember: Jesus seems to delight in lavishing his attention on the undeserving – not those with fancy phrases.

PRAYER: Have mercy on us sinners, Lord Jesus!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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