DayBreaks for 8/02/17 – Defeating the Philistines

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DayBreaks for 8/02/17: Defeating the Philistines

From the DayBreaks archive, August 2007:

It doesn’t take much for me these days, to get incensed.  I just recently spent time talking with several people about the state of the world today.  We talked at some length about the madness that seems to have seized the headlines, if not the word itself, that believes that it is perfectly legitimate to blow up another human being (and the more the merrier), or to cut the heads off human beings in front of cameras for no reason than to strike terror into the minds of people around the world.  Sadly, all you need do is turn on the television or connect to the Internet and you’ll get what amounts to an hour-by-hour reporting of these kinds of atrocities. 

Why do such things happen?  I muse on the topic.  I can blame certain religions, that to my knowledge, seem to have no concept of grace.  I can blame the culture in which these people grew up and were educated.  I could blame the press, I could blame their parents.  But I think the real answer is that in such people, we are seeing the unregenerate nature of mankind at its most exposed.  We are seeing human nature without any of the restraining influence of the Holy Spirit.  It’s not a flattering portrait of our species.

What do we do to defeat such Philistines?  Mark Buchanan, in Hidden in Plain Sight reminds us: “…the Spirit of God is a living Person, an equal part of the Triune God, who desires to fill us and guide us and teach us and comfort us and counsel us, and to help us bear much fruit.  But he’s humble and gentle, the Spirit, and needs inviting.  And though the Spirit loves to anoint us for ministry in order to make us God-like in strength, even more he desires to fill us for daily living in order to make us Christlike in humility.  More than endowing us with the might to slay the Philistines out there, the Spirit wants to strengthen us with grace to slay the Philistine in here.

Each and every one of us want to believe the best about ourselves, don’t we?  That we are good, at least basically good, that we don’t torture cats and dogs and that we’d never abuse women or children.  We want to believe that while others act like Philistines, that we would never act that way. 

I think we should probably re-evaluate ourselves if we think that way.  I doubt that the people who held the feet of Jesus, or who swung the hammer to drive the nails home, would have ever felt that they would be so vile as to kill the Son of God.  Paul certainly couldn’t see that he was putting God’s beloved children to death until the bright light struck him on the Damascus road and revealed the truth about his own nature and deeds. 

It’s easy to get down on the Philistines “out there” or “over there.”  It’s easy to think that they need to change.  And they do.  We should pray that they will be touched with the love of Christ and empowered to live by the Spirit.  But we need to fight the Philistines that live in the darkened recesses of our lives lest we become like those we would decry in the name of all that his holy and just. 

1 Corinthians 9:24-27 (NIV) – Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize.  Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last; but we do it to get a crown that will last forever.  Therefore I do not run like a man running aimlessly; I do not fight like a man beating the air.  No, I beat my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize

PRAYER:  Jesus, teach us to search our hearts and realize the depth of our deceitfulness and unrighteousness.  Help us to understand that without the power of Your Spirit, there would be nothing to set us apart from the most depraved person on the face of this earth.  Thank You for the privilege that we have of knowing You and help us understand how precious that gift is!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

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DayBreaks for 7/21/17 – My Witness

DayBreaks for 7/21/17: My Witness

How many times in your life have you wished someone has witnessed something that happened and could back up your story? It may have been when you were a kid and it may have been something relatively insignificant, such as whether or not it was you or your sister who put their finger into the chocolate on the freshly frosted cake and messed it up. It may have been when you were in grade school when someone shoved you or called you a name and you retaliated by shoving them back – and the playground monitor saw you shove them, but missed the fact that they’d shoved you first. It may have been at the scene of a car wreck, or a crime – and you long for a witness who can verify your innocence.

You are not alone. Since day one of human history after the fall, we’ve been longing for a witness who could clear up the issues for us. Job is an outstanding example of that. Verbally and emotionally attacked by his “friends” and charged with some horrible sin that he must have committed to be suffering so, he cries out for a truth-teller, someone who saw what was true: Job 16:19 (NLT) – Even now my witness is in heaven. My advocate is there on high.

It is interesting that Job uses both the term witness and advocate in that utterance. There is a difference, you know. A witness just reports what they saw…an advocate goes to bat for you even if it’s against the odds or testimony of everyone else.

The concept of an advocate doesn’t disappear with Job. The Spirit is described as our advocate as well as counselor in John 14:26: – But when the Father sends the Advocate as my representative—that is, the Holy Spirit—he will teach you everything and will remind you of everything I have told you.

I don’t know about you, but I have a bit of a difficult time identifying with the Holy Spirit. He is the mysterious part of the Godhead, the one we know the least about. He’s so ethereal (yet real!) and the last part of his name “Spirt” just adds to the confusion and mystery.

That’s why I really like this next verse: 1 John 2:1 (NLT) – My dear children, I am writing this to you so that you will not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate who pleads our case before the Father. He is Jesus Christ, the one who is truly righteous. Who is our advocate in heaven? The Savior Jesus Christ! And of course, Hebrews explains how he is the perfect advocate for us.

Sometimes I think too much about the Spirit and even Jesus observing/witnessing all the things I do that I shouldn’t, and all the things I don’t do that I should. And I can get very depressed about that. But, I don’t think nearly enough about the Spirit and Jesus advocating for my plight before God Himself. If they are advocating for me, do you think for a second that the Father will disagree with them? No! They’ve held a mindset of perfect unity forever and nothing that I do is going to change that. Even if it came to a vote in the heavenly court (which it won’t!), it would be 2 versus 1 for acquittal as Jesus and the Spirit advocate for me. But perhaps the best news is that the judge himself is my advocate, Jesus: 2 Timothy 4:1 (NLT) – I solemnly urge you in the presence of God and Christ Jesus, who will someday judge the living and the dead when he appears to set up his Kingdom…

Did you need that bit of good news today? I did!!!

PRAYER: Jesus, Spirit, thank you for being not just my witness but my advocate, and letting me know that you will pronounce me as righteous and innocent because of the blood You shed. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 10/06/16 – The Spirit Cries for a Refill

DayBreaks for 10/06/16 – The Spirit Cries for a Refill           

From the DayBreaks archive, 2006:

From BIZARRE NEWS: “How many times have you been enjoying a beer in your favorite bar or restaurant when you suddenly notice that your glass is empty! What to do? The waitress is nowhere to be seen and the bar is lined two deep with thirsty patrons clamoring for the bartender’s attention. Perspiration beads your brow as the anxiety of going three, four, even five minutes without another beer begins to gnaw on you.  

“What will happen? Will you die of thirst? Will you sober up?  But before speculation runs wild the waitress shows up at your table with a brand new, ice cold, frothy beer. Is she psychic? No. It turns out you have been drinking out of the latest in bar technology. The “Smart Glass.”  

“That’s right, folks. A Japanese electronics company has developed a hi-tech pint glass that tells bar staff when it needs refilling. The intelligent glass is fitted with a radio-frequency coil in its base that emits a signal to a receiver set in the table when it’s empty.  

“The iGlassware system works by coating each glass with a clear, conducting material, enabling it to measure exactly how much liquid has been sipped or guzzled. When empty, the glass sends an electronic cry for more beer from the table to waiters equipped with hand-held computers on frequencies similar to those used by mobile phones.  

“This is a huge advance in the science of drinking. Now patrons don’t even have to go through the inconvenience of ordering drinks. They can devote themselves entirely and single-mindedly to the task of destroying their livers.”

Well, I guess I shouldn’t be surprised that some enterprising soul came up with such a product.  Here’s the good news as I see it: it will work with wonderful drinks like Dr. Pepper, too!  Imagine never having to wait for a Dr. Pepper refill again!  Yahoo!

But this intelligent glass is a poor imitation of the spirit that God has put inside of us that lets us know when we need more of Him (which is always!)  In Psalm 84:1-2, 10, the Psalmist put it this way: How lovely is your dwelling place, O LORD Almighty. I long, yes, I faint with longing to enter the courts of the LORD. With my whole being, body and soul, I will shout joyfully to the living God…  A single day in your courts is better than a thousand anywhere else! I would rather be a gatekeeper in the house of my God than live the good life in the homes of the wicked.  

These are among my very favorite verses in Scripture.  There is something deep within us that longs for home, for perfection, for a place where only that which is perfect and whole and wholesome can be found.  I long for the day when I shall see the gates of the city and be ushered into His Presence!  I have a hunch that when it happens, I, like the Psalmist, will shout with a joy I’ve never felt before!  All the joy that we’ve ever felt in this world will be nothing compared to that joy, because here we know that joy is temporary, that just around the next corner lies more heartache and sadness.  Such will not be the case when we “enter the courts of the Lord”.  We will know that the joy we feel then will never diminish, but only grow greater and greater throughout all eternity.  You could take the joys of a thousand days lived on earth and it won’t compare to a single day in the courts of heaven.  Is it any wonder that the writer would be content to be the gatekeeper in God’s house than in a luxurious palace owned by the wicked?  Whatever joy they have will vanish with their last heartbeat, but the joy of the gatekeeper only begins with the last heartbeat. 

But there is a risk: it is difficult to live in the here-and-now as a fully engaged Christian if I think too much about the there-and-then existence in heaven.  The temptation to become escapist is huge.  I must trust that in the due course of time that I will enter those courts…and that it will have been far more than worth the wait.  Until then, my spirit cries out for a refill!

PRAYER: Let my heart long for only you, Lord!  Fill us anew with faith, courage, hope and trust!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2016 by Galen C. Dalrymple. All rights reserved.

DayBreaks for 5/11/16 – Spirit Signs

DayBreaks for 5/11/16 – Spirit Signs

As the story goes, a little girl was visiting her grandmother one beautiful spring morning. They walked out into her grandmother’s flower garden. As grandmother was inspecting the progress of her flowers the little girl decided to try to open a rosebud with her own two hands. But no luck! As she would pull the petals open, they would tear or bruise or wilt or break off completely. Finally, in frustration, she said, “Gramma, I just don’t understand it at all. When God opens a flower, it looks so beautiful but when I try, it just comes apart.” “Well, honey,” Grandmother answered, “There’s a good reason for that. God is able to do it because He works from the inside out!”

God works from the inside out. That is the great message of Pentecost Sunday, isn’t it? This is what the disciples finally came to understand at Pentecost. Jesus had ascended into heaven. And He had told the disciples to wait in Jerusalem for the Holy Spirit.

Here is where the story of Pentecost picks up. The disciples are back in the Upper Room waiting and wondering and some of them likely were grumbling impatiently and nervously. “What in the world are we doing here? All this waiting around is driving me up the wall! There’s no use. He’s gone and without Him, we are nothing. It’s over! We’d just as well face it. What is this Holy Spirit business anyway? Maybe we misunderstood Him!”

Maybe just then they heard a sound. The breath of God began to blow on that place like the rush of a mighty wind. Images of fire danced around them. Suddenly, their fear was gone, replaced by peace and confidence, courage and strength and unity and they began to speak and communicate the word of God boldly and amazingly people from all different backgrounds heard and responded and 3,000 people were converted that day.

It’s interesting to note that the three classic symbols for the Holy Spirit in the Bible remind us of how God works through us and how God works from the inside out. Do you remember what they are? The three traditional symbols of the Holy Spirit in the Bible: Breath: the symbol of Life. Fire: the symbol of Power. The descending dove: the symbol of Peace.

Are those three things visible in your life? Do people around you see the Spirit at work within you?

PRAYER: Jesus, may be know the Breath of Life, the Fire of the Spirit, and the Peace that comes from You. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2016, Galen C. Dalrymple. All rights reserved.

 

 

DayBreaks for 4/27/16 – He Whispers to Us

DayBreaks for 4/27/16 – He Whispers to Us

Stashed away in a drawer or box in many an attic, nearly forgotten, is a batch of old 33 and 45 rpm records from the ’50s and early ’60s. Worn and scratchy, long since outdated by the flashy digital technology of compact discs and .mpe downloads, these primitive vinyls were once the jewels of a great treasure trove. Elvis’ grinding out “Hound Dog,” Buddy Holly and the Crickets’ hiccuping “Peggy Sue,” Chuck Berry’s joyful hot licks in “Maybellene,” the Coasters’ slapstick tour de force “Charlie Brown,” the mournful “Tears On My Pillow” by Little Anthony and the Imperials, the impenetrable and probably scandalous “Louie, Louie” by the Kingsmen, and the teenaged gropings of the Paris Sisters’ “I Love How You Love Me” — they are all there, and more.

Here and there in this dusty stack, one may find an occasional recording by the great blues master Jimmy Reed. A share-cropper’s son, Reed brought the throbbing harmonica-and-guitar-driven black rhythm-and-blues of the Mississippi Delta into the popular rock-and-roll mainstream. Maybe you and your high school friends, long ago fancying yourselves a budding rock band, would play and replay these recordings — “Big Boss Man,” “Bright Lights, Big City,” “Hush, Hush,” “Baby What You Want Me To Do” — trying to imitate Reed’s hypnotic rhythms on your cheap Silvertone electric guitars, attempted in vain to capture the pain-soaked cries of his mahogany voice in your too-tight, too-white, suburban throats.

However, in placing the phonograph needle again and again in the grooves of Jimmy Reed’s records, one could begin to notice something curious. If one listened very carefully, there could sometimes be heard, ever so faintly in the background, a soft woman’s voice murmuring in advance the next verse of the song. The story that grew up around this — and perhaps it is true — was that Jimmy Reed was so absorbed in the bluesy beat and the throbbing guitar riffs of his music that he simply could not remember the words of his own songs. He needed help with the lyrics, and the woman’s voice was none other than that of his wife, devotedly coaching her husband through the recording session by whispering the upcoming stanzas into his ear as he sang.

Whether or not this story is accurate, Christians will surely recognize a parallel experience. Jesus tells his followers that the role of the Holy Spirit is, in effect, to whisper the lyrics of the gospel song in the ears of the faithful. When Jesus was present, he was the one who instilled in them the right words, coached them through the proper verses, taught them the joyful commandments. But as Jesus approached his death, drawing near to his time of departure, knowing that the disciples would be on their own without him, that task is to be handed over to the Holy Spirit.

We are often afraid that we don’t know what to say, or that we’ll say something wrong…and so we say nothing at all. Listen for His whisper. Speak up what you hear Him say to you!

PRAYER: Help us be still enough to hear the whisperings of Your gentle Spirit and trust that He will give us what we are to say as we sing Your love song to the world! In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2016, Galen C. Dalrymple. All rights reserved.

 

DayBreaks for 3/06/15 – A Lesson in Pressure

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DayBreaks for 3/06/15: A Lesson in Pressure    

 

NOTE: This week DayBreaks are from the archive as Galen is out of the country.  He will respond to messages after he returns. 

Sent in by a DayBreaks reader (thanks, Bridget!):  If you were to climb into a submarine you might think that, as long as it held watertight, you could glide on down to the bottom of the ocean. Sadly, if you tried to do this you’d soon discover how mistaken you are. Submarines can only go so deep before the pressure of the water crushes them like an empty soft drink can crumpled by your hand. Indeed, a number of years ago submarine called the Thresher went down too deep. The water pressure rose to the point that the submarines heavy steel bulkheads were crushed.  The sub was torn apart, leaving pieces of debris scattered across the ocean floor for searchers to find.

If you want to go down really deep you need a specially designed research vessel shielded by heavy armor. Now imagine you jumped into one of these heavily clad research vessels and headed down to the ocean depths. Guess what you’d find? Fish. Fish! Fish with skin just millimeters thick.

How is it that fish with just a thin skin covering can survive the pressure of such great depths, where a submarine with thick steel plates cannot? 

The answer is quite simple: fish have equal and opposite pressure inside them. Submarines do not.

When confronting the pressures of sin some Christians try to become like a submarine, shielding themselves from the outside world, strapping themselves into a narrow space where they are safe from external pressures. They make rules which are designed to reinforce them against temptation. But unfortunately, the deeper into life we go the more inadequate this approach will be. The external pressure will just become too great.

This is why we need to be like the fish, to develop positive pressure inside ourselves. Rather than simply resisting the outward pressure of temptation we need to combat it by building up positive spiritual pressure within, replacing the values the world would impose with the Spirit developed character of Christ.  – Adapted from the Internet, Author Unknown

Is your life being properly balanced?  If you seem to be losing the fight to external pressures, fill the inner sanctum of your soul with the presence of the Spirit and the Word He delivered.

Copyright by 2005 Galen C. Dalrymple.  ><}}}”>

PRAYER: Fill us with Your Spirit so we can withstand the pressures of this world and go deeper with You!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

© 2015, Galen C. Dalrymple.

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DayBreaks for 12/18/14 – What Scandalized Jesus

DayBreaks for 12/18/14 – What Scandalized Jesus

 

From the DayBreaks archive, December 2004:

I’m afraid sometimes that we don’t see human sin and weakness in the same way that Christ did.  Let me say this first and get it out of the way so you won’t be worried by some of what I will say: Christ hates sin.  He hates all of it.  He doesn’t want us to commit sin of any kind.  In fact, he died so that it was possible for it to be forgiven.  So – just to be clear, I’m not condoning sin today, nor going soft on it, OK?

That being said, I’m pretty sure that we may be much more like the Pharisees than we are like Jesus.  Ouch, did that hurt?  (If your reaction was, “Not me!”, then you should pay special attention to what I’m going to say, because that’s a good indicator that you are very close to the heart of the Pharisees!)  Here’s what I mean: in the NT there are many stories that involve 3 classes of people: those who were guilty of “sins of the flesh”, those suffering from “sins of the spirit”, and Jesus.  What is amazing is what happens when these 3 groups are all present at the same time.  Consider the stories of the notorious woman who anointed Jesus feet/the self-righteous host of the feast, the tax collector and Pharisee, the prodigal son and his brother, the religious leaders and the woman taken in adultery as just a few.  In each of the cases, those who were guilty of the “sins of the flesh” (the lady of ill repute, the tax collector, the prodigal son, the adulterous woman) knew that they were in deep, deep trouble.  They knew they were sinners – and bad ones at that.  But in those same stories, it was their antagonists who were guilty of the “sins of the spirit”, they were blind to their own sin, which had made it impossible for them to love those guilty of the sins of the flesh.

Crunch time: What scandalizes you the most – sins of the flesh, or sins of the spirit?  Jesus seems to have been far more scandalized by those guilty of the sins of the spirit – the spiritually blind and haughty.  C.S. Lewis wrote: The sins of the flesh are bad, but they are the least bad of all sins.  All the worst pleasures are purely spiritual: the pleasure of putting other people in the wrong, of bossing and patronizing…the pleasures of power, hatred.  For there are two things inside me, competing with the human self which I must try to become.  They are the Animal self, and the Diabolical self.  The Diabolical self is the worse of the two.  That is why a cold, self-righteous prig who goes regularly to church may be nearer to hell than a prostitute.

What is it that makes the sins of the spirit so insidious?  Simply this: those who are infected with this disease don’t have a clue that they’re sick.  Those with the sins of the flesh have a pretty good idea that they’re really messed up.

We let the sins of the flesh scandalize us.  And they should – they are sins after all.  But the fact that they scandalize us more than the sins of the spirit may be a telling symptom of where our own problems lie – in the spirit of haughtiness that so scandalized Christ.  At least those with sins of the flesh were more prone to confess, repent and be healed of their sin, but those who believe they are without sin have no such motivation.

What scandalizes you?  It is very possible that those who are the farthest from the kingdom are those who appear to be the closest.

Matthew 7:21-23 (NLT) – Not all people who sound religious are really godly. They may refer to me as ‘Lord,’ but they still won’t enter the Kingdom of Heaven. The decisive issue is whether they obey my Father in heaven. On judgment day many will tell me, ‘Lord, Lord, we prophesied in your name and cast out demons in your name and performed many miracles in your name.’ But I will reply, ‘I never knew you. Go away; the things you did were unauthorized.’

PRAYER: Teach us to think about sin as You do – and know that no sin is good – but to be especially aware of our own tendency to spiritual sins! In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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