DayBreaks for 5/07/18 – Drowning Rats and Hope

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DayBreaks for 5/07/18: Drowning Rats and Hope

From the DayBreaks archive, May 2008:     

I don’t have to tell you that life can get pretty hard.  If you are more than 24 hours old, you’ve probably discovered that fact for yourself (and come to think of it, getting into this world isn’t so easy, either)!  It is difficult, at times, to hold onto hope.  But it is very important that we do so!  Think about this example from Today In the Word, May 1990: “A number of years ago researchers performed an experiment to see the effect hope has on those undergoing hardship. Two sets of laboratory rats were placed in separate tubs of water. The researchers left one set in the water and found that within an hour they had all drowned. The other rats were periodically lifted out of the water and then returned. When that happened, the second set of rats swam for over 24 hours. Why? Not because they were given a rest, but because they suddenly had hope!  Those animals somehow hoped that if they could stay afloat just a little longer, someone would reach down and rescue them.”

It is sometimes easier to hope than others.  But as G. K. Chesterton put it: “Hope means hoping when things are hopeless, or it is no virtue at all…As long as matters are really hopeful, hope is mere flattery or platitude; it is only when everything is hopeless that hope begins to be a strength.”  I think he makes a good point.  If we were the rats in the tank in the experiment and could see a way to get ourselves out of the tank, then what would we be relying on?  Ourselves.  And then it isn’t hope, is it? 

Of course, we aren’t rats in a tank.  We are of much greater value.  We weren’t put here by some crazed scientist for the purposes of experimentation.  God isn’t performing laboratory experiments on us.  We need to remember that it was our sin that put us in the tank – not some all-powerful cosmic scientist to watch creatures struggle to see what they would do!  We alone are responsible for the fact that we are drowning.  God alone is responsible for the fact that there is a way out of the tank.  God has spent thousands of years rescuing us from the cesspool of our sin and shame and He is still about the business of rescuing broken and drowning people today. 

Romans 5:5-6 reminds us: And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us.  You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. You see, God didn’t just build a ramp out of the tank, He got in the tank with us and has lifted us out. 

When you despair of ever seeing or feeling the joy of a sunrise again, look around you.  You will see the Son of God at your side.  He will not fail you.  He will not let you down.  You may have to reach the point where the situation is “hopeless” before you turn to Him so you can learn what hope really is. 

We all need to remember that “hopeless” is a human term – it doesn’t exist in God’s dictionary.

PRAYER: Thank you that you not only didn’t leave us hopeless, but gave us the greatest reason for hope ever! In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

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DayBreaks for 5/04/18 – Good for Generations

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DayBreaks for 5/04/18: Good for Generations

From the DayBreaks archive, May 2008:     

There’s a bank here in California that is advertising free checking for the next 1000 years.  As they put it, “After that – you’re on your own!”.  If a generation is 25 years (which is the number I believe they typically use), then there would be 40 generations in 1000 years.  Not bad.  Free checking for 40 generations.  That could save $72,000 (assuming $6 per month for 1000 years).  Would you like to be able to give something to your kids and their kids and their kids after them that would last for much more than 40 generations?  It is possible (and no, you don’t have to have to spend a penny for it)!

Deuteronomy 5:9-10 says: You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the fathers to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me, but showing love to a thousand [generations] of those who love me and keep my commandments.  In fact, a statement similar to this is made numerous times in the Old Testament. 

So, what is it that you can give your children that will outlast the next millennium?  Check out Jeremiah 32:38-39: They will be my people, and I will be their God.  I will give them singleness of heart and action, so that they will always fear me FOR THEIR OWN GOOD and the GOOD OF THEIR CHILDREN after them. (emphasis mine, GCD)

Right there it is: give your children the fear of God.  Why?  Well, if you believe God (and I do!), He says that it is for our own good and the good of our children after us to fear Him!  It isn’t popular to talk about fearing God.  We like to quote to the verse: “Perfect love casts out fear.”  We know we can come before Him boldly and with confidence.  But we are commanded to fear God: 1 Pet 2:17 and Rev. 14:7.  It is only natural that as humans we hold someone in awe who can do things far greater than we can do.  He is the Judge of the whole earth – the living and the dead, He is the Holy One, the Ancient of Days, and it is only because of His love that we are not all consumed (Lam. 3.22), He holds our lives and destinies in His hand.  And God Himself told Israel that they should fear Him for their own sake and the sake of their children.  I don’t think you can separate the faithfulness of God and His blessings to our children from the job we have as parents to fear Him and teach our children to fear Him.

I know that I’ll never leave my children an inheritance like Bill Gates could leave his kids.  But you know, I really wouldn’t want to.  Why should I?  I can give them something much better, something that will last for 1000 generations – through teaching them to fear God, to love Him and to keep His commandments.  Bill Gates’ kids should be so lucky as to have an inheritance like that!

What are you leaving your kids?  How long will it last?

PRAYER: Father, let us leave something behind to our children that is of eternal value, no matter how long this earth may stand. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 5/03/18 – Why He Came – in His Own Words

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DayBreaks for 5/03/18: Why He Came – in His Own Words

From the DayBreaks archive, May 2008:     

There are so many misconceptions about Jesus.  Those who are primarily interested in the social gospel are quick to talk about slavery, injustice, abuse and the setting right of things gone wrong in this world.  Those who are heavily into politics might argue that Jesus was a man of peace, and that he would have been a politician today, striving to bring peace to a world that seems fixated on killing.  Back in the day of the hippies, they would have probably said that “Jesus came to teach us the way of love.”

There’s truth in all those things, so don’t get me wrong.  But I think Jesus put it best, and first, when he first taught in the synagogue he quoted Isaiah 61:1 – The Spirit of the Sovereign LORD is on me, because the LORD has anointed me to preach good news to the poor.  He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners. 

In Waking the Dead, John Eldredge noted: “The meaning of this quotation has been clouded by years of religious language and ceremonial draping.  What is he saying?  It has something to do with good news, with healing hearts, with setting someone free.  That much is clear from the text.  “Permit me a translation in plain language:

“God has sent me on a mission.  I have some great news for you.  God has sent me to restore and release something.  And that something is you.  I am here to give you back your heart and set you free.”

Let the words of Isaiah 61:1 come alive for you this day.  You’ll sleep better tonight because of it!

PRAYER:  Thank You, Jesus, for completing Your mission with honor and integrity – and perfection!  Thank You for coming for us!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 5/01/18 – All Things in the Right Place

 

DayBreaks for 5/01/18: All Things in the Right Place

From the DayBreaks archive, May 2008:     

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DayBreaks for 5/01/18: All Things in the Right Place

Job 38:4-7, 12-13 (NIV) – Where were you when I laid the earth’s foundation? Tell me, if you understand. Who marked off its dimensions? Surely you know! Who stretched a measuring line across it? On what were its footings set, or who laid its cornerstone–while the morning stars sang together and all the angels shouted for joy? Have you ever given orders to the morning, or shown the dawn its place, that it might take the earth by the edges and shake the wicked out of it?

How do you like it when you get “put in your place?”  It’s not real pleasant, is it?  Job discovered what it was like when God started asking him questions that were impossible for Job to answer.  Job’s response was the right one, once he recovered from his shock: I put my hand over my mouth!

God put Job in his place with his questions.  That is as it should be…whenever God asks us questions, they are designed to remind us who and what we are, and to make us realize that we are not God.  We can’t do any of the things that God asked Job, and yet God does them day in and day out without even breaking a sweat.  No, we are not God and we need to be put in our place.

But, at the same time, it is important that we put God in his right place, too.  I like this bit of historical trivia that shows that Martin Luther grasped this perfectly: Philipp Melanchthon was a German theologian who lived as a contemporary of Martin Luther.  One day as the two of them spoke, Melanchthon said to Luther, “Today, you and I shall discuss the governance of the universe.”  Luther looked at Melanchthon and said, “No.  Today, you and I shall go fishing and leave the governance of the universe to God.” 

PRAYER:  Thank You, Father, that You’ve shown us the truth about ourselves, and revealed your greatness and glory to us.  Today, may we trust all things into Your infinitely capable hands!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 4/30/18 – Everyone in Hell has a Big But

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DayBreaks for 4/30/18: Every One in Hell has a Big But

From the DayBreaks archive, April 2008:     

Let’s take a closer look a favorite saying of those who know little or nothing of Scripture: “If you live a good enough life, you’ll make it to heaven.”

The following is from Greg Stier:

“After preaching in countless churches across the nation, I’m convinced that these fighting words are the biggest lie that is still being bought by millions of professing Christians. There is a mentality that “sure Jesus died for me, BUT…” As a matter of fact, I always say that “everyone in hell has got a big BUT”:

“BUT you also have to live a good life.”
“BUT you also have to obey The 10 Commandments.”
“BUT you also have to live by The Golden Rule.”
“BUT you also have to turn, try, seek, surrender…”

“The way of work and the way of grace are separate ways. If you seek to earn salvation via the way of work, you have to go the whole way. Jesus laid it out pretty clearly in the Sermon on the Mount. When Jesus begins the “You have heard…but I say unto you” list of impossible standards, I’m sure that everyone listening wilted. Those present (save Jesus himself) had unjustly been angry at their fellow man and had lusted at their fellow women. And having lusted, they were busted and unable to measure up to the ultimate standard of entrance into heaven: Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect. (Matthew 5:48). 

“If our people dare approach Christianity as a religion, then the standard is impossibly high. To get into heaven, we have to be as good as God himself.

“Oops.

“That’s why the offering of salvation is the way of grace through faith and not by good deeds (Ephesians 2:8-9).  Those ways, according to Romans 11:6, cannot be mixed: And if by grace, then it is no longer by works; if it were, grace would no longer be grace.

“We need to do our best to help all of our people embrace the way of grace for the salvation of their souls. What’s interesting is that, when they do, good works will flow out of grateful hearts that long to please the Father who redeemed them through grace.”

Galen’s Thoughts: Paul got on the same bandwagon with Jesus when Paul wrote Galatians to show the foolishness of trying to please God by living the Law.  Still, I think Stier is on to a real truth: I think we’ll be surprised when we get to the judgment and we start to hear many say, “But Lord, I lived a good life,” “But Lord, I’m even a better person than some of those so-called Christians,”, “But Lord, there must be some mistake,” and “But Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or naked or in prison?”

There is only “but” that will work: “I am but a sinner, clinging to the cross of Jesus.”

PRAYER:  Father, teach us not to offer You excuses, but penitent, humble hearts.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 4/27/18 – Kidy S Noy Pgg

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DayBreaks for 4/27/18: Kidy S Noy Pgg

From the DayBreaks archive, April 2008:     

How many times have you heard someone say, “It’s just a little white lie”, or “It’s not big deal” when they are talking about something they’ve done which was wrong?

To sin: from the Greek hamartia, meaning “to miss the mark.”  You’ve probably heard that before, I imagine.  And I know that I’ve written about it before in DayBreaks.  It’s an archery term, describing what happens when the archer, well, misses the mark, the target. 

Missing the target may not be too bad if you’re shooting at a bulls-eye ring of circles that’s backstopped by a bunch of hay bales or a dirt hillside.  But it takes on an entirely different color if you’re talking about William Tell shooting at the apple on the head of his son.  In that case, missing the target could be horrible or not so bad – depending on which direction you miss!

So, let’s agree that missing the mark can be a bad thing in arrows, bullets, throwing knives or bomb dropping.  But how about in our loving obedience to God?  Does a little missing of the mark here or there really make that much difference?  Is it that noticeable, especially considering the fact that God is engaged in cosmic warfare against evil, not to mention He must be pretty busy keeping the universe going according to schedule? 

Sin is missing the mark.  Did you wonder about the title of today’s DayBreak?  If you haven’t figured it out, it’s the words “Just a bit off” typed on the computer keyboard one letter off to the right.   Let me ask: how much difference did it make?  When you first looked at the title, could you tell what it was?  Did you notice it? 

God notices all we say, do, think, don’t say, don’t do or don’t think.  And when we miss even a little bit, it gets His attention.  But there’s a key difference: God knows what we were doing, whereas you probably had no clue what the title of this DayBreaks meant.   You probably just assumed Galen had gone wacko (not a bad assumption, by the way.) 

Missing the mark matters when it comes to God – always.  Sin matters – always.  Let’s stop pretending that it “won’t affect me and it doesn’t hurt anyone else.”  Those are Satan’s lies and have no place in our thinking.  And our missing the mark can make it very hard for anyone else to understand what being a Christian is all about.

PRAYER:  Lord, have mercy on us.  Help us to focus on the goal we’re shooting for – to become like You, to carry Your likeness engraved on our hearts and minds.  Help us to fly true and straight to the center of the target!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 4/26/18 – Why Sin Vanished from Our Vocabulary

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DayBreaks for 4/26/18: Why Sin Vanished from Our Vocabulary

From the DayBreaks archive, April 2008:     

When is the last time that you heard the word “sin” actually spoken outside of a church – other than in a sneering derisive way?  I don’t know if I can honestly recall.  In fact, one wonders if perhaps the word is spoken very often inside churches these days.  Why is that?  No less than 50 years ago, the word could be heard at least every once in a while from politicians, businessmen, teachers, professors and certainly in churches.  Why no more?

It has to do with the shift in our thinking from the realm of spiritual things being relegated to nothing more than personal belief without anything to recommend it to a serious thinker or scholar as being more than just superstition.  When the Bible as God’s special revelation was thrown out, and when the real historical Jesus was made into a farce by the “Historical Jesus movement”, and when universities began teaching that anything the wasn’t scientifically provable should be thrown on the dust heap as so much gibberish, then there was to sin anymore, no mark that we would be missing.  Because, you see, God can’t be scientifically proven, therefore He must not exist. 

So, if you ask most people in our culture what, if anything, they think of sin, Don Everts in The Smell of Sin suggests it would be like asking them what they think of unicorns.  (In fact, I suspect that some might give more credence to the existence of unicorns – perhaps even if only in the past – than they do to the existence of God, although there’s far more evidence for the latter!)  Still, most people know that unicorns are a myth.  As Everts says, “So the debate is: is it a cute myth or a silly myth or a destructive one?  Sin really has joined the ranks of Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny in our culture: something that you once believed in as a child but have since grown out of…So, what does sin smell like to most of our neighbors?  Nothing.  Air.”

Has sin vanished from your vocabulary?  Have you relegated it to something other than what it is?  Have you developed cute names for it (“goof-up”, “mistake”, “slip of the tongue”, “mis-step”, “an oops”)?  God calls it sin.  And He reminds us very clearly: (Ezekiel 18:4, NIV) – For every living soul belongs to me, the father as well as the son–both alike belong to me. The soul who sins is the one who will die.

PRAYER:  Father, keep us from believing fairy tales and give us the wisdom to believe You.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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