DayBreaks for 2/21/18 – An Imitation of the Master

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DayBreaks for 2/21/18: An Imitation of the Master

From the DayBreaks archive, February 2008:

So, how do you plan to spend your day today?  Did you create a “laundry list” of things that you need to get done or should do?  How’s it going so far?  Has the list gotten smaller or bigger as the day progressed?  How much time do you spend planning out your next day? 

It seems that no matter what I do or how meticulously I might try to plan things, it never seems to quite work out like I’d planned.  Perhaps that’s what the writer of Proverbs had in mind when he wrote in Proverbs 19:21 (NLT) – You can make many plans, but the LORD’s purpose will prevail.  I think I’ve got my day all figured out, but NOT!  I often look at the things that come along in the course of a day as being unwelcome events…after all, I’ve got a plan and if I can just run it like clockwork, it’s the best thing, right?  Not really.  Why should I think that my well-laid plans are the best thing for me to do each day, or the best way to do them, or even that they’re the most important things to do on any given day? 

We need to learn to welcome interruptions.  Mark Buchanan says that the devil seeks to distract, but God seeks to interrupt, and how quickly we fall prey to Satan’s distractions but how we equally quickly grow oblivious to God’s interruptions.  Satan wants us to become distracted from God and godly things, but God wants to interrupt our schedules and plans with things which are more important.  Who am I to say that the interruption by the person in the next cubicle is not a portion of a God-directed plan for something greater than the accomplishment of my little plans?  Isn’t that perhaps what the writer of the Proverb was saying?

Jesus’ life was dominated by purpose – he came to offer his life as a ransom.  Reading the gospels, especially John, one gets the sense that Jesus entire life was spent moving towards Jerusalem and the cross.  And indeed, it was always his purpose.  But along the way, many things happened to him that we would consider interruptions.  It isn’t clear that Jesus kept anything like a detailed itinerary of his daily schedule.  In fact, his daily life seemed to be lived by interruption: a woman who touches his clothes and is healed, a dead son begin wept over by his mother, a dinner at a taxpayer’s house, a wedding feast in Cana, a leader of Roman soldiers who entreats him for a healing, little children who wanted to be held, storms on the sea, fishing with his buddies, questions from the scribes and Pharisees – and the list goes on virtually endlessly.  He always found time for telling stories, for people along the route to the cross who hadn’t scheduled a moment of his time. 

So what was Jesus’ secret and what dictated Jesus’ schedule?  How did he number his days aright?  Perhaps Jesus came the closest to answering that himself in Mt. 11:1-11, when he said, The wind blows wherever it pleases.  You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going.  So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.”  Jesus listened and watched the Spirit – and did what the Spirit directed.

Peter, after saying Jesus is the Lord of all, describes how Jesus spent his days: God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and power, and…he went around doing good.  (Acts 10:36, 38) 

There you have it: the sum of Jesus’ earthly vocation is that he wandered and he blessed.  Jesus was a vagabond physician, the original doctor without borders.  His purpose was crystal clear – but his methods appear to be random.  Henri Nouwen observed something like this about his own life: “My whole life I have been complaining that my work was constantly interrupted until I discovered the interruptions were my work.”

PRAYER: May we discern Your interruptions, Lord, and may we go with You to do what You want us to do together.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

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DayBreaks for 2/12/18 – The Spirit and the Wind

DayBreaks for 2/12/18: The Spirit and the Wind

From the DayBreaks archive, February 2008:

John 3:8 (NIV) – The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.

Without a doubt, the aspect of the Trinity that we know the least about would be the Spirit.  Even His name, “Spirit”, seems strange and mysterious to us compared to Father or Son.  We long to lay our eyes upon the Father and upon the Son, but how often have you heard anyone say, “I can’t wait until I see the Spirit!”

As you probably know, the word for Spirit in Greek is pneuma.  It’s translated as breath, wind, spirit.  In John 3:8, it is the word that Jesus uses when speaking of the Holy Spirit.  That just makes it all the more mysterious, don’t you think?  You cannot see the wind itself, but you can see its effects.  So it is with the Spirit.  Jesus says the wind blows where it decides to go, and so does the Spirit.  The wind can be gentle or powerful, so it is with the Spirit.  It is interesting to me, that in Genesis 1:2, the Spirit of God is introduced, and as the KJV puts it, “the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters” – just like the wind that moves over land and sea. 

I have been focusing a lot lately in my life on trying to see and perceive God more clearly though the things that He has created.  Sometimes my eyes are covered and I struggle to see Him in things, but at others, I wonder if I sometimes go a bit too far with my perceptions.  We live in a time when we have a scientific explanation for everything, where even the human genome has been fully mapped, where earthquakes are no longer believed to be an act of God (or the gods to the pagans), where eclipses are understood to be naturally occurring celestial events rather than a sign of displeasure from on high.  Solomon said that “to everything there is a season” but modern man in all our supposed wisdom, says “To everything there is an explanation.”  Something great has been lost, I fear.  Mystery has been subsumed by the mundane and de-mystified.

Here’s my point: what if, just for sake of conjecture, we were to think of the breeze, the wind as being the Spirit passing by instead of being caused by competing areas of high and low pressure in the atmosphere?  After all, the wind and Spirit are used interchangeably in some Biblical texts.  Maybe it isn’t just the movement of air molecules that brushes your face when you step outside today – maybe it’s the breath of the Spirit, or the caress of His hand as the Spirit moves around you. 

Would that not be a better way for us who are believers to think of the wind?  While I’m not possessed of enough wisdom and insight to know whether or not it is true, Scripture says that the Lord will never leave us – and where the Lord is, the Spirit is.  And if we were to start to think of the wind as the Spirit every time we sense the breeze, if we let it draw our thoughts to God would we not be better off than explaining it away as just the difference in atmospheric pressure?

PRAYER: Sometimes, Lord, we listen too much to science and not nearly enough to Your Spirit, that we confess is mysterious indeed to us.  Teach us through the things that You’ve created, capture our imaginations and hearts anew with the awe and wonder we once knew as little children, and direct our thoughts toward You.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 11/8/17 – The Crushing Weight

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DayBreaks for 11/08/17: The Crushing Weight

From the DayBreaks archive, November 2007:

How do you deal with pressure?  Some folks love it, others hate it.  Pressure can come from a variety of sources: it can be imposed from someone in authority telling you want to do and when it has to be done, or from having wasted precious time when you could have been working on something important.  It can be generated by the manipulative expectations of parents, children, spouses or friends.  We can generate our own pressure based on unreasonable and impossible expectations we place on ourselves.  Other pressures are more physical: that squeezing of the chest that indicates a heart attack or the weight of a car falling on top of you. 

The following comes from Sidney Greidanus’ book, Preaching Christ from Genesis: “The nuclear submarine Thresher had heavy steel bulkheads and heavy steel armor, so it could dive deep and withstand the pressure of the ocean.  Unfortunately, on a test run in 1963, the Thresher’s nuclear engine quit, and it could not get back to the surface.  It sank deeper and deeper into the ocean.  The pressure became immense.  The heavy steel bulkheads buckled; the Thresher was crushed with 129 people inside.

“The Navy searched for the Thresher with a research craft that was much stronger than submarines.  It was shaped like a steel ball and was lowered into the ocean on a cable.  They finally located the Thresher at a depth of 8,400 feet: one and a half miles down.  It was crushed like an egg shell.  That was not a surprise, for the pressure at that depth is tremendous—3,600 pounds per square inch.

“What was surprising to the searchers was that they saw fish at that great depth.  And these fish did not have inches of steel to protect them.  They appeared to have normal skin, a fraction of an inch thick.  How can these fish survive under all that pressure?  How come they are not crushed by the weight of the water?  They have a secret.  Their secret is that they have the same pressure inside themselves as they have on the outside.  Survival under pressure.

“John assures us, “The one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world.”  We will be victorious in the battle against Satan because Jesus poured his Spirit into our hearts.  “You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world.”

If we don’t have the Spirit functioning inside of us, we, like the Thresher, will be crushed by the enemy.  Alone, we are not able to sustain our lives under his relentless pressuring attacks.  Is it any wonder that we fail when we struggle against Satan in our own strength and wisdom?  We must be filled with the overflowing of the Spirit to survive, and not just to survive, but to thrive in our situation. 

Ephesians 3:14-19 (NIV) – For this reason I kneel before the Father, from whom his whole family in heaven and on earth derives its name.  I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge–that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.

PRAYER: Daily, Lord, we are put under pressure to compromise and surrender the ground You’ve given us to protect.  Fill us up completely, so that not only are we equal to the pressure, but that the Spirit within us will flow out of each pore of our bodies and souls that Your glory and goodness may abound!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright by 2017 by Galen C. Dalrymple.

DayBreaks for 10/27/17 – How Could He Not Have Sinned?

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DayBreaks for 10/27/17: How Could He Not Have Sinned?

Hebrews 4:15 (ESV) – For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin.

Yesterday, I wrote about Peter’s denial and how God used stories like that to encourage us in our human weakness – not to encourage us to be weak – but to know that in spite of our failures He still loves us. We are just like Peter. There is only One who lived a sinless life.

So, how did Jesus do it? How did he manage to live sinlessly?

Philosophers and theologians like to debate subjects which may seem trivial at times. And they like to sound like they know what they’re talking about. My guess is that philosophers probably come closer to knowing what they are talking about because I’m not convinced that finite human minds can really begin to grasp God and His mysteries very well.

One such subject in the theological realm is the peccability of Christ. Peccability means “liable to sin, susceptible to temptation”. In a nutshell, the argument is about whether or not Christ could really have sinned. The NT is clear he was human: he had to learn, grow, he got hungry and tired, he ate, he was tempted just like us, he cried, he bled, he died. It is equally clear that he was God: “I and the Father are One”, “If you have seen me, you have seen the Father”, etc.

So, if he wasn’t just half human and half divine, but fully human and fully divine, how could he have not sinned?

I think it must be the case that in his humanity he could have sinned, the divine nature was so much stronger (as one would expect) that he was able not to sin. It boils down, I think, to this: He was led by and in constant harmony with the Spirit that dwelt in him fully. And the strength of that Spirit because of Jesus’ walk in the Spirit was able to defeat every temptation.

And there’s the rub, isn’t it? Aren’t we supposed to have that same Spirit in us? Yes. So why don’t we live flawlessly? Because we are not in constant harmony with that Spirit. We don’t have the 100% God nature that Jesus had that enables him to overcome.

The secret to overcoming sin is to walk in the power of the Spirit. I wish I had a magic wand that would let me and you do that. My experience is that I’m not sufficiently in tune with the Spirit to overcome sin always – let alone often.

Should I despair over this sad state of affairs? Well, I certainly should repent when I fall and pray for the power of the Spirit to be unleashed more in my life, but I don’t think God wants us to despair over it. I believe that the same divine nature that was able to prevent sin in Jesus will, through the blood of Jesus, present me to God sinless and pure on the day of Judgment. And that’s something not to despair over, but to rejoice in!

PRAYER: Jesus, we all need to walk more in the power of Your Spirit. Mortify the fleshly desires that lead us into sin, and help us cry out for help when we are tempted rather than stifling Your power to keep us from sinning. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright by 2017 by Galen C. Dalrymple.

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.  ><}}}”>

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.