DayBreaks for 3/6/18 – Dying the Death of the Righteous

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DayBreaks for 3/06/18: Dying the Death of the Righteous

NOTE: Galen is traveling this week.

From the DayBreaks archive, February 2008:

Do you remember Balaam from the book of Numbers in the Old Testament?  Numbers 22-25 tells us that he was the prophet that was brought in by Barak, the king of Moab to put a curse on the Israelites as they began their move into the Promised Land.  Balaam found himself in an interesting predicament: the man who hired him wanted him to curse Israel, but when Balaam opened his mouth, out came blessings instead!  This made him unpopular with his “boss”.  It happened not once or twice, but four times!  (According to the Word, Balaam also appears to have been the only person who ever understood donkey language, too!)  Finally, when it became clear that Balaam couldn’t curse Israel, he persuaded Balak to use the women of Moab to put sexual temptation in front of Israel so that Israel would lose favor with God and fail. 

The last part of one verse in particular is very interesting, from Numbers 23.10 (Balaam speaking): “…let me die the death of the righteous, and may my end be like theirs!”   Balaam wanted to die the death of the righteous, to be found in favor with God and pleasing to him.  But, Numbers 31.8 tells us that it didn’t happen that way.  In fact, the children of Israel killed Balaam with the sword for what he’d done.

What makes this interesting is that many people want to die the death of the righteous without having first lived the life of the righteous.  Here Balaam was, trying to curse Israel, then suggesting involving them in sexual sin, crying out that he wanted to be counted as a righteous man when he died – to be able to die with the peace and calmness of spirit that possesses a righteous man when faced with his Maker.  Balaam seemed to miss the connection between living as a righteous man and being able to die as a righteous man. 

When we step out of this fleshly tent of the human body to enter into eternity, I’m sure that we all want to die the death of the righteous.  We simply can’t do that unless we have lived the life of the righteous first.  But there is a problem – we aren’t righteous.  The writer to the Romans describes the problem and the solution in one tightly written passage, Romans 3.21-24: But now a righteousness from God, apart from law, has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify.  This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.

Want to die the death of the righteous?  Then be sure that you are about the business of living the life of the righteous – in Christ!!

PRAYER: Help us live with and for You, so that when we die, we may be forever with You, dying in peace, awakening with our Maker and Friend.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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


DayBreaks for 2/06/18 – Sanctifying Time

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DayBreaks for 2/06/18: Sanctifying Time

From the DayBreaks archive, February 2008:

In his book, The Rest of God, in which Mark Buchanan talks about Sabbath, he mentions the need for us to be engaged in “sanctifying time.”  It might seem strange when you think about it: after all, aren’t we sanctified?  If people are sanctified, how can you “sanctify time”?  And what would that mean?

The word “sanctify” in the Hebrew is the word that means “to betroth”.  Let that sink in for a second.  Betrothal – like Mary and Joseph.  Pledged to be married.  Committed to be married to that one person and no one else.  To be “set apart” for that one person that you love and who loves you.  Now, take that concept and apply it to time – especially “Sabbath time.”  Sabbath – rest – was a requirement.  It was up there with the other 9 commandments that formed the Decalogue.  None of us would dare to think too lightly of the commands “Thou shalt have no other gods before me”, or “Thou shalt not murder”, “Thou shalt not commit adultery”, “Thou shalt not steal,” etc.  Yet we tend to think that somehow this command of God to observe a time of rest is a minor command compared to the rest of the 10.  God sure doesn’t seem to think so. 

God instituted the idea of rest, of a period of time that we are to “set apart”, to betroth ourselves to if you will, because He created us from dust and He knows we are not able to keep going forever like He can without getting tired.  He knows how close we are at any given moment to returning to the dust from which we came – it is we who lack that awareness more often than not.  And because of that, God said: “Rest.” 

And so what is the purpose for the resting?  There are numerous things, but for now, we are to “set apart, betroth” a certain period of time to rest…and worship.  What did Israel do on the Sabbath?  They celebrated God, His blessings, His greatness…they worshipped Him for all He was worth.  That’s why such a strong word as “betrothal” is used to paint the picture of Sabbath…we are to be betrothed to those kinds of things as we rest.  Does that mean we have to go to church when we’re resting?  Absolutely not (even though from time to time during one of my sermons I’ll catch people ‘resting’ in their chairs)!  You can worship God at your desk at work, laying in the hammock, lounging by the pool, sitting in the shade with some lemonade and a good book – you can worship and reflect on Him anywhere. 

The problem with our leisure (what we think of as our day of rest) is that they’re not very leisurely at all.  We run into them pell-mell and without reservation – and we wind up more tired than when we started.  But the worst thing about it is that we usually leave God entirely out of our thinking at those times.  We’ve left the Holy out of our day of rest.

When is the last time you betrothed yourself to a time of rest and reflection on the One who has given you each day of your life and filled it with wondrous things?  We need that kind of rest!

PRAYER: Father, that you that you know our frailties and our deepest needs, including our need to rest in You.  Help us to sanctify time spent with You.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 2/01/18 – A Lamp, Not a Searchlight

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DayBreaks for 2/01/18: A Lamp, Not a Searchlight

From the DayBreaks archives, January 2008:

Psalm 119.105: Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path.

Have you ever gone backpacking?  I have rather poor eyesight without my contact lenses, and at night when we are backpacking and I take my lenses out, I want to be sure that I don’t have to do any walking around or I can’t see a thing!  It can be awkward to be tripping and stumbling over unseen roots and rocks (not to mention it doesn’t impress my friends with my sheer athletic gracefulness)!!!

This verse from Psalm 119 is trying to tell us that we don’t have to walk in the darkness.  But it is important to remember what a lamp was in the days the passage was written.  Typically, the lamp being described was a small earthenware bowl with an elongated snout on one end into which a wick was laid.  One end ran into the bowl and the other lay on the outer edge of the “snout” and was lit.  It could usually fit easily into the hand.  Travelers carried these lamps at night so that they could see the terrain where they were walking.

It’s worth noting that the Word is described as being a “lamp”, not a high-powered searchlight.  The lamp of olden days gave light to the feet, but couldn’t give light for a great distance.  That’s the way it is with God – He gives us just enough to see the next couple of steps but not the complete pathway.  Why?  I think it is because if we had a high powered searchlight, we wouldn’t need faith, for then we would be walking by sight and not by faith.  God wants us to learn to trust Him with a future that is unknown (to us). 

Are you trying to direct your own steps?  Sometimes we can try to hard to plan the future and we rob ourselves of the excitement and joy of being led step by step.  Our planning tends to remove God and dependence on Him from our minds.  We must approach all of life with the attitude noted in James 4.13-15: “So you should say, ‘If the Lord wants, we will live and do this or that.'”  How often in the course of planning your day, let alone your week, month, year or life, do you stop to take God’s sovereignty into account?

Living day by day, depending on Him alone, is a tremendous adventure.  Don’t try to find the searchlight – be content with the lamp and trust that He truly knows the path.

PRAYER: Give us the wisdom to seek Your light and the courage to walk in Your pathway!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 1/22/18 – When Salvation Comes to Your House

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DayBreaks for 1/22/18: When Salvation Comes to Your House

We often think of salvation as freedom – at least as being freed from something.  And that’s all well and good, and even accurate.  For those of us born in the United States, we’ve never experienced slavery.  The language of Scripture speaks of the delivery of Israel from Egyptian slavery as a salvation, freeing them from their oppressors.  It’s hard to argue with that, so I won’t even try.

If, however, all we think of when we think of salvation is freedom – the ability to stop being enslaved to someone or something, I think there’s something seriously wrong with our concept of salvation.  Take, for instance, the story of Jesus and Zacchaeus.  I won’t bother going through the story – let’s get to the point, and see something about what salvation really involves.

After Jesus spent some time with Zacchaeus (we’re not told much about their conversation at all), Zacchaeus breaks forth with an exclamation: Look, Lord!  Here and now I give half of my possessions to the poor, and if I have cheated anybody out of anything, I will pay back four times the amount.  (Lk. 19:8)  What prompted Zacchaeus to come to this conclusion and decision, we just don’t know.  We can only assume it was either something Jesus said, or just the experience of His holiness that moved Zacchaeus.  Regardless, he meets Jesus and changes his mind about things, but immediately he also changes his ways. 

But what is fascinating is Jesus’ proclamation at that point: Today salvation has come to this house.  Here’s what Mark Buchanan wrote about this incident, in The Rest of God: “When salvation comes to your house, first you think differently, then you act differently.  First, you shift the imagination with which you perceive this world, and then you enact gestures with which you honor it.”

Don’t get me wrong – I don’t think that Jesus was saying that because Zacchaeus was taking actions that he was saved because of it.  I think Jesus was pointing out the motive behind the actions: Zacchaeus had been saved, and the evidence of his salvation was a change of both mind and action.

Have you been saved?  What changes in action has salvation wrought in you?

PRAYER:  May our minds be change and our hearts rekindled by the wonder of the salvation that has come to our house, and may we live lives full of the evidence of that salvation.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 1/18/18 – If We’d Been There

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DayBreaks for 1/18/18: If We’d Been There

From the DayBreaks archive, January 2008:

More from John 11 today: John 11:43-44 (NIV)  – When he had said this, Jesus called in a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out! The dead man came out, his hands and feet wrapped with strips of linen, and a cloth around his face. Jesus said to them, “Take off the grave clothes and let him go.

I can’t hardly imagine the spectacle around the tomb of Lazarus.  Like most tombs of that time, it was either a cave-like structure carved horizontally into the rock, or a vertical hole in the ground.  Either way, such tombs would have a stone placed over the entrance for at least three reasons: to keep out the wild animals that would tear at the decaying flesh, to keep out vandals that might try to steal any valuables and to keep in the stench of decay. 

We know from several of the verses that people were gathered around.  They’d most likely accompanied Mary and Martha as they made their way to the tomb – it was customary for the mourners to travel together at such times.  And we know that Jesus asked “them” to move the stone.  What we often forget is what else Jesus asked “them” to do. 

When Lazarus came back to life, he was still wound up by the grave wrappings.  I don’t know if Lazarus “floated” out of the tomb, or hobbled mummy-like to the entrance, or hopped.  We don’t know and it doesn’t really matter – somehow Lazarus got there.  But even as he drew his first breath, he may have started to think he was suffocating because of the wrappings around his head and chest.  The wrappings needed to come off.  And Jesus gave the job to “them”.  Surely, if Jesus could raise Lazarus from the dead, surely Jesus was capable of removing the grave clothes, either by hand himself, or miraculously.  But he didn’t.  “They” had to do it.

What would you have done if you were one of “them”?  I can imagine several reactions if I try to put myself in their place.  Consider these possibilities and contemplate what you might have done:

ONE: I might have gotten a good whiff of the scent of death (I somewhat doubt that just because Lazarus was alive, that the smell that had been trapped in the linen was gone) and thought, “No way!  I think I’m going to throw up!”

TWO: if I was a perfectionist, I might say: “I’ve never unwrapped a dead person before.  How do you do it?  What if I do it wrong?”

THREE: I might have been too puzzled to do anything.  I might have thought, “This can’t possibly be happening.  There’s got to be some other explanation for this.  Lazarus must not have been dead – we must have buried him prematurely!  It’s a miracle he survived!”

What’s the point of all this?  Simply this: I wonder how we respond when Jesus invites us to do something.  Are we willing to dive into the stink that ministry can sometimes be in order to do what He asks of us?  Are we worried that we’re not good enough or don’t know enough to do what He asks?  Would we seek for another way, some other explanation?

We didn’t have the incredible privilege of witnessing the events of John 11 with our own eyes.  But Jesus still invites us, just as he invited them, to join him in what He does.  Will we?

PRAYER:  Sometimes, Lord, we are frightened and confused and feel too incapable of doing anything meaningful or well enough in life.  We get so down on ourselves because of the enemy’s constant attacks and our all-too-frequent failures to feel we can be of any use to You.  And so we do nothing.  Help us to spring into faithful action when we hear Your voice.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 11/30/17 – The Value of Opposition

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DayBreaks for 11/30/17: The Value of Opposition

From the DayBreaks archive, November 2007:

I enjoy watching kites fly.  I especially enjoy watching either little children fly a kite and squeal with delight, or in watching experts who really know what they’re doing fly exotic and beautiful creations.  The colors, the shapes, the fun of using the wind to fly – it’s great stuff!  Multicolored creations of varying shapes and sizes fill the skies like beautiful birds darting and dancing in the heady atmosphere above the earth.  As the strong winds gusted against the kites, a string keeps them in check.

Instead of blowing away, they rise against the wind to achieve great heights.  They shake and pull, but the restraining string and the cumbersome tail keep them in tow, facing upward and against the wind.  As the kites struggle and tremble against the string, they seem to say, “Let me go!  Let me go!  I want to be free!”  They soar beautifully even as they fight the imposed restriction of the string.  Sometimes, one of the kites will succeed in breaking loose.  “Free at last!’ it seems to say.  “Free to fly with the wind.”

Yet freedom from restraint simply puts it at the mercy of an unsympathetic breeze.  It’ll flutter ungracefully, sometimes in a death-spiral, to the ground where it lands in a tangled mass of weeds and string against a dead bush.  “Free at last” – free to lie powerless in the dirt, to be blown helplessly along the ground, and to lodge lifeless against the first obstruction. 

How much like kites we sometimes are!  The Lord gives us adversity and restrictions, rules to follow from which we can fly and gain strength.  And how we fight against those restraints!  We would like to cast them off like a heavy coat on a blazingly hot summer day!

Restraint, however, is a necessary counterpart to the winds of opposition.  Some of us will tug at the rules so hard that we never soar to reach the heights we might have otherwise obtained.  We keep part of the commandment and (pardon the pun) never rise high enough to get our tails off the ground.

Let us each rise to the great heights our Heavenly Father has in store for us, recognizing that some of the restraints that we may chafe under are actually the steadying force that helps us ascend and achieve.  Without those restraints, we cannot truly fly.

Romans 3:18: – They have no fear of God to restrain them.

PRAYER:  Teach us to love Your commandments and precepts, and to see them as blessings that give us the ability to soar rather than weights to hold us down.  Let us fly with Your Spirit through the winds of obedience!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright by 2017 by Galen C. Dalrymple.

DayBreaks for 10/30/17 – Moving Boundary Stones

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DayBreaks for 10/30/17: Moving Boundary Stones

From the DayBreaks archives:

Long ago, Israel had settled into the promised land and grew fat and content. Well, not quite. Some were content, but others were ambitious. They wanted more and more land for themselves – at the expense of their brethren. How did they solve the problem? Hosea tells us how some did it, in Hosea 5:10: “Judah’s leaders are like those who move boundary stones. I will pour out my wrath on them like a flood of water.”

As you can tell from the passage, their actions did not please God. He hates injustice and greed. Many had become corrupt. Why didn’t God just ignore it and pretend it didn’t happen? Because when leaders go wrong, it isn’t long before the masses go wrong.

I was fortunate enough to attend my youngest son’s college graduation last June at Stanford. The guest speaker was Ted Koppel, the guy from ABC. I have to tell you that I was very impressed with the challenge that he gave the students. He’d been invited by the president of the university, Gerhard Caspar, to talk on “that mess in Washington” and Caspar’s concern about intrusion into the privacy of the President. Caspar got more than he bargained for. Koppel, rather than sharing Caspar’s concern over “privacy”, delivered a very eloquent and impassioned plea for a return to morality. His words were powerful, but perhaps no more powerful than in this statement as the ending summary of his speech: “Aspire to decency. Practice civility toward one another. Admire and emulate ethical behavior wherever you find it. Apply a rigid standard of morality to your lives; and if, periodically, you fail ­as you surely will ­adjust your lives, not the standards.”

We have a tendency to explain away our own improper behavior by “changing the rules”. Changing the rules is “moving the boundary stones” – deciding that the old limits no longer apply and then redefining them to meet out wishes. Koppel’s advice is right on: when we fail morally, “as you surely will – adjust your lives, not the standards.”

When we fail, don’t try to disavow God’s law by saying His standard has become old and outdated – a relic of an ancient age long gone by. God’s law is unchanging. We dare not move the boundary stones for our own benefit!

PRAYER:  Lord, help us to faithfully observe the boundaries that You have set in place, may we glorify You by our obedience.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright by 2017 by Galen C. Dalrymple.