DayBreaks for 5/17/17 – The Immanent or the Greater

Image result for fiery furnace

DayBreaks for 5/17/17: The Immanent or the Greater

Thanks to some writing by Mark Labberton, I’ve been fascinated again with the childhood story of Shadrach, Mescheh and Abednego.  I shared some insights in a DayBreaks before, but here’s one a friend had that I think is worth sharing.

I wrote before about how these young men had to discern the real danger when confronted with the choice of worshipping the golden image that King Nebuchadnezzar had built.  They had to decide for themselves if the greatest danger was in bowing down and worshipping the idol or in not worshipping the real and living God. 

As Hebrews, these three had been well versed in the 10 commandments, and I’m sure, could easily recite them by heart.  So, for them to truly be tempted to worship an idol, well, it probably wasn’t really a temptation for them at all.  Saving their lives might have been a temptation, but they certainly knew it was wrong to worship an idol.  But, here’s the thing: they believed that worshipping anything other than Yahweh was a greater risk and danger than worshipping the idol, however sometimes the immediate or immanent danger seems greater than the far off danger.  Even though they knew what was right and wrong, and they knew in their hearts that failure to be true to Yahweh was the greater danger, the heat from the fire was pressing against their skin, making itself felt RIGHT NOW, and the danger from not worshipping Yahweh probably seemed a long way off.

We are often tempted to compromise for a couple of reasons: we want immediate pleasure rather than delayed gratification, or we want to avoid the immediacy of pain and suffering.  The latter is just as dangerous as the first – and both can be deadly.

Is there some immediate suffering that you can foresee in your life that you’ve been wrestling with and trying to avoid by some compromise?  Are you thinking that you can set the record straight with God at some later point?  That’s very dangerous reasoning.  Remember the words of the writer to the Hebrews: (Hebrews 10:31, NLT) It is a terrible thing to fall into the hands of the living God.

PRAYER: In our foolishness, Lord, we often forget that it may be better to suffer now than to fall into Your hands later.  Give us courage and open our eyes to understand that just because one kind of suffering may be more immediate, that it doesn’t mean it is the greatest suffering we could encounter.  Let us have no other gods before You! In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2017 by Galen Dalrymple.

 

DayBreaks for 5/09/17 – The Believer’s Definitive Question

DayBreaks for 5/09/17: The Believer’s Definitive Question

From the DayBreaks archive, May 2007:

So you struggle with being faithful. Join the crowd.  I don’t know a single person who doesn’t struggle with obedience, and even with their faith itself, from time to time.  It’s normal – and I think, at least to a certain extent – it is healthy to at least question faith once in a while to be certain that we don’t grow stale and complacent.  We need not fear the testing of faith.  There is greater danger in an untested faith when the time of trial comes.

There seems to be something about us humans that is a lot like a moth: we like to dance close to the flame.  In our case, it is the flame of temptation.  We seem to be drawn to certain things as individuals, and while it may vary from person to person, even as Christians we seem drawn to the flame.  The flame represents that which is familiar to us, something we’ve grown accustomed to and we find it to be predictable.  But, like the moth, we forget that the flame can burn us and kill us.  It’s a very dangerous place to be.

Still, many people show a tendency to get close to the flame of old temptations once again.  And not only do we have that tendency, we show an eagerness for it when we ask the question (when we clearly know the answer more often than not): “Would it be wrong for me to do this?” 

In his book, Grace Walk, Steve McVey suggests that the definitive question for the believer shouldn’t be whether or not we can do something, but instead, Am I abiding in Christ at this moment?  An unsaved person evaluates behavior on the basis of right and wrong, but the lifestyle of a Christian is to flow from the activity of Christ.  McVey’s point is that we have Christ in us and we are in him – so why would we even want to dance close to the flame?  Somehow, I can’t picture Christ walking around asking “Would it be wrong for me to do this?”, can you?  I think rather, he’d be focused on abiding in the Father’s love and not thinking about doing wrong, but about doing good. 

John 9:4 (NLT) – All of us must quickly carry out the tasks assigned us by the one who sent me, because there is little time left before the night falls and all work comes to an end.

PRAYER: Lord, we know that we are to abide in You, to let you live Your life through us.  It’s hard to give up our own life, even to One as powerful as Your Spirit.  Help us to have the mind of Jesus that is concerned about abiding in Your love and acting out of that love for the world.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2017 by Galen Dalrymple.

DayBreaks for 5/01/17 – Obedience

DayBreaks for 5/01/17: Obedience

From the DayBreaks archive, May 2007:

Listen to this story.  I don’t know the source of the story, but here it is:

“How we admire the obedience a dog shows to its master!  Archibald Rutledge wrote that one day he met a man whose dog had just been killed in a forest fire.  Heartbroken, the man explained to Rutledge how it happened.  Because he worked out-of-doors, he often took his dog with him.  That morning, he left the animal in a clearing and gave him a command to stay and watch his lunch bucket while he went into the forest.  His faithful friend understood, for that’s exactly what he did.  Then a fire started in the woods, and soon the blaze spread to the spot where the dog had been left.  But he didn’t move.  He stayed right where he was, in perfect obedience to his master’s word.  With tearful eyes, the dog’s owner said, “I always had to be careful what I told him to do, because I knew he would do it.”

Galen’s Thoughts: Loyalty.  Character.  Perseverance.  Courage.  Faithfulness.  These are all words that come to mind.  Sounds like a super-hero.  And then I have to stop myself and remember that I’m talking about a DOG!  But what lessons that dog can teach us!

I’m heart broken by this story for several reasons:

FIRST: I grieve for the dog’s sake.  I can’t imagine what it was like – how great the temptation must have been to cut and run through the forest away from the heat and torment of the flames – yet the dog stayed put.  I mourn the loss of the dog, but at a deeper level it makes me mourn my own lack of courage in obedience to the one I call my Master.

SECOND: I mourn that I am not more broken hearted by the loss of eternal souls than I am in the loss of the dog.  What is wrong with me, with us, when we have deeper feelings about the loss of a dog, albeit a tremendously loyal one, than the lives of those that surround us every day?

FINALLY: I am haunted by the final words of the dog’s master: “I always had to be careful what I told him to do, because I knew he would do it.”  What would my Master say about me?  Oh, how I wish Jesus could say, “I always had to be careful what I told Galen to do, because I knew he would do it!”  Instead, in my fear and weakness, I far too often run from the heat of the struggle into perceived safety.  But it is only perceived safety and it certainly isn’t obedience.

The love of the dog’s owner is clear in his tears – he loved his dog.  The pride of the owner is clear in his words – he was justifiably proud of the obedience of his dog.  I look at Jesus and see his tears for me and I know He loves me with all his heart.  I just wish my obedience was loyal enough that Jesus could be proud of me.

PRAYER:  Lord, forgive my lack of obedience and loyalty!  It seems to take no more than even the slightest distraction to pull me away from you sometimes.  Help me to have the kind of character you wish to develop in me.  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.

DayBreaks for 4/26/17 – Be Careful Where You Cast Your Net

DayBreaks for 4/26/17: There Is a Right Side

Note: Galen is traveling this week.

From the DayBreaks archive, April 2007:

Statistically speaking, most of you reading this are right handed (about 90%).  We refer to those who write with their left hand as “using the wrong hand”.  Some teachers used to even try to teach lefties to write with their right hand.  It is a right-handed world.  Think about public telephones.  Think about power tools.  We drive on the right side of the road (except of course for the British who drive on the “wrong” side of the road).  Jesus even talked about the “right” side being good (the sheep) and the “left” side bad (the goats)!  Now, I know that spiritually there is nothing wrong with being left-handed.  Lefties are just different.  Baseball teams love left-handed pitchers because they’re scarce.  Recent statistics, however, showed that lefties don’t live as long as righties.  Don’t ask me why – I haven’t got the foggiest idea.

In John 21:4 says that Jesus told his followers: Throw your net on the right side of the boat and you will find some. When they did, they were unable to haul the net in because of the large number of fish.  I realize that when Jesus said this, he was talking about right as opposed to left, but there is a point to be made here: Whatever Jesus tells us to do is “right” and if we follow it, our lives will be filled with an overabundance of good things. 

I’m sure that sometime during the night time hours as the disciples fished, they’d thrown the net over the right side of the boat as well as the left.  They’d caught diddly, zero fish, zip, nada.  There was nothing magical about the right side of the boat.  Don’t you think that if there had been something magical about it that in all the years the disciples had been fishing that they would have noticed that every time they threw out on the right side instead of the left that they caught something?  They knew there wasn’t anything special about the “right” side of the boat.

But here’s the key: obedience.  Jesus told them what to do and they did it.  And it worked! 

It is no different in our lives.  Jesus tells us what to do and if we do it, we are blessed.  Whatever Jesus tells us to do is “right” – he’ll never tell us to cast our net on the “wrong” side of the boat.

If it seems like you’ve been fishing all throughout the night time of your life and that you have nothing to show for it, perhaps you’ve not been listening to what Jesus says is “right”.  Your own way is doomed to fail: Prov. 14:12 – There is a way that seems right to a man, but in the end it leads to death.

Choose to do the “right” that Jesus has chosen for you – don’t trust yourself.  You’ll only end up dying as a result.

PRAYER:  Lord, let us be on the right side!  Let us rest confidently and not doubt your wisdom and guidance.  May we be quick to obey and eager to serve!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2017 by Galen Dalrymple.

DayBreaks for 4/24/17 – Fearing the Stink We Miss the Glory

DayBreaks for 4/24/17: Fearing the Stink We Miss the Glory

Note: Galen is traveling this week.

From the DayBreaks archive, April 2007:

One of my very favorite stories from the bible is the story of the raising of Lazarus in John 11.  It has all the elements a great story should have: drama, passion, a villain, a hero and a happily-ever-after.  What’s not to like about this story?

Yet, you recall how it goes: Jesus has been out of town, and his good friend falls sick.  Mary and Martha, Lazarus’ sisters, send someone to Jesus so he can come and heal Lazarus of his illness.  The messenger reaches Jesus, but he intentionally delays his return.  By the time Jesus gets back to Bethany, Lazarus has been dead and in the tomb for 4 days.  The sisters aren’t too happy with Jesus for not coming sooner, but Jesus leads them out to the tomb.  In John 11:39, the sisters, after Jesus asks for the stone to be rolled away, complain: Lord, already there is a stink because he has been dead four days. 

Jesus responds: Did I not tell you that if you believed, you would see the glory of God. 

It will stink.  “Over and over again we are stopped by the repulsion of the stink, even when Jesus is offering God’s glory.  To live lives of faithful worship, to cultivate God’s imagination for justice, to trust Jesus Christ to do a work of liberation and transformation means there will be times when our noses will be filled with the stench of human need and evil.  But far more profoundly, we will also have glimpses of the glory of God that can set the captives free.”  – Mark Labberton, The Dangerous Act of Worship

How would you have felt if you were one of those who was asked to move the stone? Would you have drawn back in repulsion and said your back hurt so you couldn’t help move it? If the stone hadn’t been moved, would Jesus have raised Lazarus?  I don’t know.  I suspect he might have.  But I don’t know that.  But wouldn’t it have been a shame if the stone hadn’t been moved and God’s glory had been blocked by a human fear of smell?

How often have I been afraid to go somewhere with Jesus because I was more concerned about the “stink” than about the glory of God? 

PRAYER: Take away our fear of the scent of sin and death so we can see Your glory, for it is in the darkest and most foul places that Your greatest miracles are wrought.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2017 by Galen Dalrymple.

DayBreaks for 4/12/17 – The Widow’s Offering

DayBreaks for 4/12/17: The Widow’s Offering

From the Holy Week devotional guide from our church:

“On the surface, I don’t believe it can be any clearer what’s being said here. It’s important to give, to tithe, and to sacrifice. However, I want you to look deeper and be inspired by something that motivates me, and I hope I will encourage you as well.

“Let’s look at her FOCUS! Here is a woman living an uphill battle. She is a woman in a time where so little value was placed on her gender and potential. Most women were not allowed to leave their homes, nor were they allowed to speak in public. Simply put, most women held the same status as a slave. This woman was a widow, which meant what love and relationship she once had in her life was now gone. She suffered the pain of a loved one’s death and the loss of a secure future. In a sense, this widow had nothing going for her and little to live for. In every direction, her life was about pain. Who among us cannot relate to the pain this widow experienced?

“However, reading the story of this widow’s actions is inspirational. While reading this passage, I visualized this timid, humble, and respectful woman approaching the offering box. She was focused on one thing…God! She wasn’t focused on the fact she was broke, probably jobless, and didn’t have any excess money to give. Frankly, one could easily assume she might want to hold onto her last few coins to give herself some sense of security for the next day or two? No, not her! Even though she had experienced the death of her husband and loss of companionship and security, her pain was great, but her focus was not on her story. It was on Him!

“The widow’s story is like a movie. I’m sure we all have movies that inspire us, motivate us to new heights, and even bring us to tears as we relate to the hero’s ability to overcome obstacles. This widow’s story is a biblical picture of an overcomer with an attitude that says, ‘I will not quit.’ As hard as her life was, she was prepared to put her confidence in God’s faithfulness. It all goes back to her FOCUS, her ability to trust, to see what is most important It is awe-inspirit as she surrenders her life’s struggles to the loving arms of the Father!

“Easter is a time of reflection, sadness, joy and great celebration. It is a time to FOCUS. Focus on our personal struggles and pain but also on the finished work of Christ. Though we cannot make sin disappear in our lifetime, as the movie of our life is played, we can experience what it is like to live as overcomers because of what Jesus has done! This widow gave us an example to follow. She was a humble servant, a dedicated giver, and most importantly a lover of the Mighty God!

“Where is our FOCUS? Jesus looks beyond the outward appearance and sees directly into the heart. Are we preoccupied with our struggles or are we living in the reality that Christ has overcome those struggles? As we focus on the finished work of Christ, our story will look remarkably like the widow’s story.” – Brent Weber, director of Kidsquest and Impact Arts Academy, Perimeter church

PRAYER: Lord, when we consider that You were obedient, even unto death, it seems a reasonable service of worship for us to present ourselves as living sacrifices, holy and acceptable. Lord, only You can give us a heart that is willing to live sacrificially! In Jesus’ name, Amen. 

Copyright 2017 by Galen Dalrymple.